Removal of crude oil from highly contaminated natural surfaces with corexit dispersants.

Affiliation

Florida International University, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Miami, FL, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Dispersants are used to reduce the impact of oil spills in marine environment. Experiments were conducted with natural materials which were contaminated by direct application of fresh Louisiana crude oil. The natural materials evaluated included sea sand (South Beach in Miami, Florida), red mangrove leaves (Rhizophora mangle), and sea shells (Donax variabili). Salt water at two different salinities (17 and 34 ppt) was used with two types of Corexit dispersant solutions (9500A and 9527A) in concentrations ranging from 100 to 3500 mg/L. Washing of the contaminated samples was conducted by a three-step mixing procedure (salt water only, then with the addition of the dispersant solution to the salt water, and salt water) to simulate oil-saltwater-dispersant interactions. In general, increasing dispersant concentration increased the percentage of oil dispersed into the aqueous phase up to dispersant solutions containing 400 mg/L for Corexit 9500A and 300 mg/L Corexit 9527A. Increasing the dispersant concentration above these levels also decreased the dispersion of oil from the surfaces. At very high concentrations of dispersant solutions (above 1500 mg/L), the percentage of oil dispersed into the solution from the contaminated surfaces was about one half what was observed at 400 mg/L with Corexit 9500A and 300 mg/L Corexit 9527A. Although dispersants were most effective for removing the fresh Louisiana crude oil from sand particles and dispersing into the solution due to large surface area of the particles per unit weight; the residual oil remaining on the sand particles was relatively high in comparison to mangrove leaves and sea shells due to clustering of sand particle with oil. There was some oil penetration into the porous structure of the sea shells (at the microscopic level) which could not be removed.

Keywords

Corexit,Crude oil,Deepwater horizon,Dispersant,Oil spills,Residual oil,

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