Oil Spill Simulation
Floor Location : J 160 V
The problem that was being solved was that in smaller oil spills that are far out in the ocean or sea they are not always cleaned up properly. This can impact the environment and animals immensely. Finding the most efficient environmentally-friendly sorbent to clean up these smaller spills is what is trying to be achieved. The sorbents include hay, cotton balls, and coconut coir. When doing research it was learned that for this experiment to work the materials used would have to be both hydrophobic (water-repellent) and oleophilic (oil attracting). This way they do not absorb the water and only the oil.
The estimated outcome was that the cotton balls would absorb the most oil because they use 2 abortion processes when obtaining liquids. Also, cotton balls have a very hydrophobic waxy exterior and a very oleophilic fibre like interior making them extremely effective for this use.
To do this 80 mls of water is poured into a beaker with 20 mls of oil on top. The sorbent is then placed on top of the oil for a maximum time of 5 mins. They are ten taken out and the beaker is placed in the freezer for 60 mins. This is because water has a faster freezing rate then oil meaning when it comes out the water will be solid and the liquid oil can still be measured. Finding which sorbent has the least amount of excess oil when tested.
When this experiment was completed it was obvious that cotton balls had done exceedingly better than the other two sorbents. With an average of 1 mls of oil left compared to coconut cour which has an average of 2.5 mls and hay which was 1.2 mls.
Overall, these findings contribute to helping with the cleanup of smaller oil spills because when they are not cleaned up they have a large negative impact on the environment and animals. Having an efficient sorbent that doesn’t negatively impact the environment can make so that these spills are not damaging our natural resources or our ocean and seas on earth. It was even discovered that in the U.S.A they are doing research on using cotton absorbent pads to clean up smaller oil spills. “The nonwoven industry in the United States is well equipped with technologies that can develop oil-absorbent pads from natural fibers like cotton.” This information helps people understand that there are other ways to deal with a small oil spill situation. As these do happen much more frequently than you may think. Using efficient sorbents such as cotton can help our environment and the animals that live there overall.