Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Defying conventional wisdom, water can float on oil

Date:
April 4, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Defying thousands of years of conventional wisdom, scientists are reporting that it is possible for water to float on oil, a discovery they say has important potential applications in cleaning up oil spills that threaten seashores and fisheries.

Defying thousands of years of conventional wisdom, scientists are reporting that it is possible for water to float on oil.
Credit: ACS

Defying thousands of years of conventional wisdom, scientists are reporting that it is possible for water to float on oil, a discovery they say has important potential applications in cleaning up oil spills that threaten seashores and fisheries. Their report appears in ACS' journal Langmuir.

Chi M. Phan and colleagues point out that the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle made an early attempt to explain flotation around 350 B.C. Today, most people know that less dense liquids float on more dense liquids. So crude oil with a density of about 58 pounds per cubic foot floats on sea water, which has a density of 64 pounds per cubic foot -- and not vice-versa. Correct? Phan's team decided to test that notion with computer models and in the lab.

They report that in certain cases, the conventional wisdom is wrong. By adding tiny amounts of water to a floating droplet of oil, they found that the ability of water drops to float at the surface of an oil bath depends on both the size of the droplet and the type of oil. Commercial vegetable oil has enough surface tension -- the force between liquid molecules that allows beads of water to form or insects to walk on water -- at its interfaces with air and water to support a droplet's weight, while pure mineral oils do not.

At the same time, they found that vegetable oil could not support drops bigger than about one one hundredth of a cubic inch. The authors suggest the new knowledge could help clean up oil spills, where water-borne, oil-eating microbes will mix more easily into the oil if suspended in the tiny droplets they describe. "This result can lead to a new and advanced mechanism in processing oil/water mixtures, such as biodegrading process of unwanted oils, including vegetable oils, sand oil tailings and oil spillages," the authors said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Chi M. Phan, Benjamin Allen, Luke B. Peters, Thu N. Le, Moses O. Tade. Can Water Float on Oil? Langmuir, 2012; 28 (10): 4609 DOI: 10.1021/la204820a

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Defying conventional wisdom, water can float on oil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404125226.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2012, April 4). Defying conventional wisdom, water can float on oil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404125226.htm
American Chemical Society. "Defying conventional wisdom, water can float on oil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404125226.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
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