Kill the Spill
Ada Chang, Allison Chun
R C Palmer Secondary
Floor Location : M 057 V

An increase in man-made factors such as transportation, and recurrent tectonic events have created problematic oil spills in marine environments. Oil spill pollution decreases the survival rate of marine animals and living organisms extensively. This also possesses a danger for humans. While crude oil is inevitably difficult to disperse naturally, there are few major methods to clean up these spills including the process of collecting oil on water surface and the use of chemicals/bacteria to breakdown the components of oil. In the past, there has been pure meltblown polypropylene sheets being used to absorb the oil.
In this project, the cosmetic oil blotting sheets are used as a model to modify for purposes of cleaning up oil spills, and its key material to absorption is its polypropylene sheets. While polypropylene holds several forms of itself, meltblown polypropylene is a relevant form that allows absorption. Meltblown technology uses polymers to produce fibrous webs with high velocity air. With meltblown material, absorption of liquids is possible and convenient for this project. Polypropylene material’s absorption capacity is up to 25 times its own density (0.9g/cm3) and is most known for its ability to absorb oil as well as its strong synthetic material in which is stable under corrosive environments. While meltblown polypropylene can absorb oil efficiently, it is also hydrophobic and can repel water effectively.
With the efficiency of the meltblown polypropylene sheets, its oil absorption capacity can be enhanced with other materials that hold absorption properties. The remaining oil absorbent materials that are considered in this project include cotton and moss. Dry sphagnum moss is a genus of 120 species of moss, and is extremely water repellent due to its decreased moisture levels that affect molecule polarity.
After testing individual material efficiency, the materials were narrowed down to Sphagnum peat moss and meltblown polypropylene sheets as cotton demonstrated its insufficiency of repelling water. By combining the two materials, testing for this final product showed great improvement in its ability to absorb oil while retaining water quantities. Data analysis for our final product showed that the average amount of oil absorbed increased dramatically, while the average amount of water absorbed decreased. The vulnerable sphagnum moss was placed inside the hydrophobic polypropylene sheets, allowing it to focus on absorbing oil while denying the moss’ attraction to water. With the successful results of this final product, it has proven its ability improve water conditions for marine life conservation.