Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Oil Spill Cleanup Product Made From Sugar Byproduct

Date:
December 18, 1998
Source:
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
Summary:
Louisiana marshlands of tall grasses, soft soils and shallow water make ideal habitats for scores of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. But when an oil pipeline or a barge leaks and spews its contents on the water, the marsh itself becomes a major obstacle to cleanup equipment. But a biodegradable product that can clean up spilled oil in those hard-to-get-to places now is on the horizon, thanks to the work of a researcher at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.

Louisiana marshlands of tall grasses, soft soils and shallow water make ideal habitats for scores of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. But when an oil pipeline or a barge leaks and spews its contents on the water, the marsh itself becomes a major obstacle to cleanup equipment.

Related Articles


But a biodegradable product that can clean up spilled oil in those hard-to-get-to places now is on the horizon, thanks to the work of a researcher at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.

Dr. Gary Breitenbeck, a soil microbiology and environmental researcher in the agronomy department of the LSU Ag Center, used milled bagasse -- the fibrous leftovers from sugar production -- to soak up spilled oil and create an environment that sustains the bacteria that digest the goo.

"The oil transportation industry needed something to trap spilled oil. And because of the difficulty of recovering such material from marshes and similar wetlands, it had to be disposable," Breitenbeck says. "This product can be applied to vegetated wetlands and promote oil disappearance without having to be recovered later."

As he was looking for a material that had a natural absorbency to attract the oil, Breitenbeck discovered milled bagasse has the properties he was looking for. And it's a waste byproduct of the sugar industry, besides.

"It's naturally absorbent and has an uncanny ability to absorb the same amount of oil whether it's wet or dry," Breitenbeck says. "And treating it with ammonia creates a nitrogen-rich environment for the 'bugs' that digest the oil."

Milled bagasse fibers from 1/2-inch to 1 inch long are spread over the water where oil has been spilled. The fibers create a mat-like form when they get wet, and they don't dissipate and sink in the water, Breitenbeck explains. They also maintain their effectiveness for a significant time after they're treated with ammonia, so the material can be put in storage and be ready to go when it's needed.

"With ammoniated bagasse, 98 percent of spilled oil will be gone within 90 days," Breitenbeck says. "It holds the oil and doesn't let it be displaced by water. And, it's self-composting and actually turns crude oil into humic material -- soil."

Breitenbeck's process puts the bagasse, along with ammonia and air, in a reactor and pumps up the pressure to 1,000 pounds per square inch. The high pressure drives the ammonia into the fibers and produces nitrogen compounds the microbes use to convert the hydrocarbons into humic material.

"The ammonia also acts as an oxidizing agent to help form more sites where the hydrocarbons can attach to the bagasse," he says.

Now that the ammoniated bagasse has been shown to be effective in creating an environment for bio-remediation, Breitenbeck is testing inoculants to improve the effectiveness of the process. "Adding microbes to the material can improve the efficiency of the process, especially in sandy areas where they aren't as prevalent," Breitenbeck says.

"Inoculating the bagasse with powerful microbes can even increase the effectiveness where naturally occurring microbes live in marsh mud," he adds.

The LSU Ag Center has licensed the technology to AltFuels Inc. of Labadieville, La. Breitenbeck is working with AltFuels to construct prototype reactors to commercialize the ammoniating process. They hope to have commercial quantities of the product available by mid 1999.

Initial funding for the project came from the Louisiana Oil Spill Research and Development Program and the LSU Agricultural Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. "Oil Spill Cleanup Product Made From Sugar Byproduct." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981218075434.htm>.
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. (1998, December 18). Oil Spill Cleanup Product Made From Sugar Byproduct. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981218075434.htm
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. "Oil Spill Cleanup Product Made From Sugar Byproduct." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981218075434.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Hawaii Lava Inches Closer

Raw: Hawaii Lava Inches Closer

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) Aerial video shows the path lava has carved across a portion of Hawaii's big island, threatening homes in the town of Pahoa. Officials say the flow was just over 230 yards from a roadway Thursday morning. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii was 225 yards from Pahoa Village Road on Wednesday night. The lava is slowing down but still approaching the village. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) At the foot of the rugged Carpathian mountains near the Polish-Ukrainian border, ranchers and scientists are trying to protect the Carpathian pony, known as the Hucul in Polish. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins