Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Oil spill vacuum cleaner uses bark for spills

Date:
November 11, 2010
Source:
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Summary:
Cleaning up oil spills is a time consuming, difficult process. But a novel approach developed by researchers in Norway uses a new kind of vacuum cleaner that blows bark or other absorbent material onto oil spills, and then sucks the material up again.

Silje Rabben (right), a master's student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Department of Product Design, demonstrates the use of a new kind of vacuum cleaner she and three other students have developed to clean up oil spills. The students have formed a company, Kaliber Industrial Design, to market the product.
Credit: Nina Tveter/NTNU Info

Cleaning up oil spills is a time consuming, difficult process. But a novel approach developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) uses a new kind of vacuum cleaner that blows bark or other absorbent material onto oil spills, and then sucks the material up again. The vacuum cleaner is four times more efficient in cleaning up after oil accidents than conventional techniques.

It started with a simple assignment for master's students in NTNU's Department of Product Design: make something useful that employs air and electronics. Silje Rabben and three of her fellow students decided it was time to take oil cleanups out of the Stone Age, and developed the new kind of vacuum cleaner that speeds up oil spill cleanups.

The design has been so successful that the students founded a company, Kaliber Industrial Design, and are now looking for investors to help market their invention, the MOSE -- or "Mechanical Oil spill Sanitation Equipment."

The invention has already won a number of prestigeous Scandinavian innovation awards, including DnB NOR's Innovation Award for Mid-Norway, 2010; Tekna's Innovation Award 2010; second place in the 2010 Venture Cup National Finals; and the best student idea in the 2010 Venture Cup competition.

No more hand scrubbing

Today's oil spill cleanup technology usually involves the use of an absorbent material, such as bark or peat moss, to soak up the oil. Workers then have to remove the wet, heavy absorbent material, and the remaining oil residue may have to be scrubbed off the rocks.

"The oil vacuum cleaner automates what we currently do manually," says Rabben. "It is common to use bark to absorb the oil. So we have also used it. But it is also possible to use peat moss or chemical absorbents."

The vacuum cleaner currently weighs about 10 kilos, but the engineers are working to cut its weight to 5 kilos. The equipment will also be changed so that it can be folded up to be more compact.

But the secret of the design is all in the vacuum cleaner's head. The machine first sprays bark or other absorbent material onto the spill. Rotating brushes in the head work the oil and the absorbent material together. When the oil and absorbent material are thoroughly mixed, the direction of the rotating brushes is reversed, enabling the bark to be sucked up into the equipment while the rocks are simultaneously scrubbed.

Small spills no problem

Leif Gunnar Smistad, a fire engineer and oil spill manager at Trondheim's Fire and Rescue Service, says the advantage of the vacuum cleaner is that it is portable. Smistad helped develop the idea.

"Every day we spread bark on small oil spills from overfilled oil tanks or from car accidents. Then we use a broom, a shovel and a bucket to clean up. We're very interested in mobile solutions that make these cleanups more effective," Smistad says.

The American Dream

Company representatives participated in the recent Clean Gulf Training Event and Exhibition in Tampa, Florida, and then went to New Orleans to meet with authorities and companies who have been involved with the cleanup after the Macondo Deepwater Horizon accident.

"Naturally, there is a lot of focus on oil spills and cleanup work in the Gulf of Mexico after the Macondo accident," Rabben says. "We just have to jump in."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). "Oil spill vacuum cleaner uses bark for spills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101111101408.htm>.
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). (2010, November 11). Oil spill vacuum cleaner uses bark for spills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101111101408.htm
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). "Oil spill vacuum cleaner uses bark for spills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101111101408.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN's Ban: Climate Change 'defining Issue of Our Time'

UN's Ban: Climate Change 'defining Issue of Our Time'

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 21, 2014) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marches with hundreds of thousands of people in New York for the international day of action on climate change. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 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:
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