Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Burning Now An Option To Clean Up Ocean Oil Spills Previously Thought Incombustible

Date:
June 18, 2001
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Penn State researchers have shown in laboratory experiments that some open water oil spills previously thought to be incombustible potentially can be cleaned up via burning, the most efficient, rapid and environmentally friendly option.

University Park, Pa. --- Penn State researchers have shown in laboratory experiments that some open water oil spills previously thought to be incombustible potentially can be cleaned up via burning, the most efficient, rapid and environmentally friendly option.

Dr. Anil K. Kulkarni, professor of mechanical engineering, says, "Oil spill combustion can be a highly effective clean up measure for contained spills occurring on open water bodies, such as an oil spill on the ocean contained by booms or a spill surrounded by ice. When feasible, it is an inexpensive technique that can have a very high efficiency of removal, possibly greater than 99 percent. The burning is very rapid and any resulting ecological damage is less severe compared to conventional oil removal methods."

However, the window of opportunity for using burning is often limited by wave and wind conditions and by the proximity of the spill to populated areas. In addition, over time, oil spilled at sea becomes mixed with water forming an emulsion that is difficult or impossible to ignite.

Now, Penn State researchers have widened the applicability of burning by showing that diesel fuel emulsions up to 80 percent water and crude oil emulsions up to 35 percent water can be ignited. In laboratory experiments, they demonstrated that positioning an external radiant heat source near the spill facilitates ignition. In addition, they have developed simple charts for use as a quick reference to determine the minimum external heat source needed to facilitate burning.

Kulkarni points out, however, that an open water demonstration still needs to be done to show proof of concept.

The Penn State researcher detailed the findings at the Arctic and Marine Oil Spill Program meeting in Calgary, Canada, June 14 in a paper, "Combustion of Mixtures of Weathered Alaskan Crude Oils and Water under External Heat Flux." His co-author is A. .Y. Walavalkar, who recently earned his doctorate at Penn State; part of the work was the subject of Walavalkar's doctoral dissertation.

In the Penn State laboratory experiments, two electrically operated heating panels were used to supply an external radiant heat source. The panels were positioned over a pool of water about ten inches deep. The researchers poured oil and water emulsions to a desired thickness on the water and then applied the external heat source at a predetermined level.

After the surface temperature reached a certain preset value, an attempt was made to ignite the emulsion. Upon failure to cause ignition, the heat flux level of the panels was increased by a small amount. The process was repeated until sustained combustion was achieved and the minimum critical heat flux needed to ignite the sample was determined.

Kulkarni says that, in actual open water conditions, an external heat flux could come from an adjacent deliberately set fire. "A small fire will not produce sufficient heat flux, but if the fire's size is sufficiently large, it will provide the needed minimum heat flux for the surrounding emulsion to ignite and burn. As the emulsion ignites, the fire's size will grow, providing an even larger heat flux to the yet-unburned emulsion, causing it to ignite in a chain reaction that will continue until all of the emulsion is burned. In this way, a spill previously considered incombustible can be removed," he explains.

In subsequent experiments, the Penn State researchers found that he could correlate oils and emulsions with the same density with the radiant heat needed to facilitate their ignition. He says, "Using density measurements of a specific spill will make it easier for people who are managing the clean up to decide what to do. Rather than try to decide whether to attempt burning the spill based on the type of oil it is, for example Alaskan North Slope, Milne Point crude, or diesel, they can measure the spill's density and then consult the charts we've developed to determine how large a heat flux would be needed."

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Burning Now An Option To Clean Up Ocean Oil Spills Previously Thought Incombustible." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010615071546.htm>.
Penn State. (2001, June 18). Burning Now An Option To Clean Up Ocean Oil Spills Previously Thought Incombustible. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010615071546.htm
Penn State. "Burning Now An Option To Clean Up Ocean Oil Spills Previously Thought Incombustible." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010615071546.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) Iceland evacuates an area north of the country's Bardarbunga volcano, as the country's civil protection agency says it cannot rule out an eruption. Authorities have already warned airlines. As Joel Flynn reports, ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) Aluminum giant, Novelis, has partnered with Red Hare Brewing Company to introduce the first certified high-content recycled beverage can. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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