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Beyond Cleanup: 9 Techniques for Precision Oil Spill Management

oil spill management
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Oil spill hazards are ever looming as the oil industry grows. Fortunately, technology is also advancing, and the introduction of innovative and more efficient cleanup technologies are being developed. Scientists are combining knowledge bases from physics to biology trying to develop the most efficient, sustainable and economical method for cleaning up oil spills. 

 

Oils are a tricky substance to deal with, especially when large amounts of it are spilled over ocean bodies. It forms a layer on top cutting off any access to oxygen for the marine wildlife. Time is of essence and the cleanup process needs to be quick, easily implemented and causing the least damage to the environment. Scientists have developed different technologies in solving this predicament. Let’s discuss some of the most efficient and innovative cleanup technologies.

Mesh Rollers

Researchers from the University of Texas-Austin have developed a technique combining a dual-layer of mesh rollers with heating techniques to remove oil from the ocean. Upon testing, it has shown successful results. The devices are estimated to be able to clean 1,400 kg of oil per square meter per hour. This is quite impressive as it means that with the help of the right boating infrastructure, the mesh rollers can effectively clean up oil spills within  a few days. 

High-tech drainage system

Installation of an innovative drainage system is key in solving domestic oil spill solutions. This drainage system allows the water to flow through it while capturing and removing the oil from its surface. It uses the power of gravity to increase efficiency resulting in the filtering of 100 gallons of water per minute. Every material within the drainage system is carefully selected: high-density polyethylene pipes improve drainage and are highly resistant to corroding.  

Microrobots

While cleaning up oil spills on the ocean surface, humans face many risks such as drowning and limited oxygen. To mitigate this issue, scientists have developed remote-controlled microrobots. These hydrophobic robots collect the oil and reuse it as fuel, making them sustainable. They can move through the spill without any risks, breaking down the oil as it goes. 

Innovative Magnetic soaps

Scientists have leveraged the magnetic properties of soap in cleaning up oil spills. These are still a work in progress. However, the positive results from tests clearly indicate large scale applications of this kind of soap. Researchers have successfully developed soaps with higher salt and iron concentrations that can also dissolve easily, making them more environmentally positive. 

Clay Sponges or Aerogels

Special sponges designed from clay and plastic can absorb oil and retain it for later use. They are highly absorbent and lightweight, making them the perfect cleanup tool. Since the oil can be reabsorbed and used later, it also reduces any financial losses. An upgraded version of these aerogels utilize discarded rubber tires and plastic. Using these will have an added benefit of reducing overall waste.

Improved skim boats/ One boat to out-skim them all

Since oil accumulates on top of the waterbody, skimmers are an effective clean up tool to prevent the spread of oil. However, it cannot be applied at night or on rough, windy seas. These issues can be addressed with high-speed skimming vessels. The improved skim boats are designed to work on higher waves, at night, and at a higher speed. 

Peat moss

Although the above mentioned technological advancements are impressive, we do not need to work so hard – nature has a solution for all our problems. As it turns out, peat moss is an excellent absorbing material. It can be developed into a product that, when directly applied on oil, can trap the oil in a non-sticky crust. This crusty oil can be removed easily from the surface of the water. Once developed, it will even find applications in the cleanup of domestic oil spills.

Skimmer with groove technology

Elastec/American Marine, the winner of the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE, designed a skimmer in the form of a barrel that can remove oil from water. Its plus point is that this device even works in waves. This is a highly efficient design with an efficient rate of 70 percent. It can skim up to 2,500 gallons per minute.

The Ocean Therapy Design

Kevin Costner’s oil filtration machine, also known as the Ocean Therapy device, is a groundbreaking technology designed to address oil spills with precision and efficiency. Developed in collaboration with scientists and engineers, this innovative machine utilizes centrifugal separation technology to swiftly remove oil from seawater. By spinning contaminated water at high speeds, the machine separates oil and other pollutants, leaving behind clean water that can be returned to the environment. This method offers a promising solution for oil spill remediation on a large scale.

 

 oil spill management goes beyond mere cleanup; it embraces technology and natural solutions to safeguarding our oceans and coastal ecosystems. By integrating advanced techniques such as containment strategies, bioremediation, and innovative technologies like skimmers and dispersants, we can mitigate the impact of oil spills effectively. These methods not only ensure swift response and recovery but also promote sustainable practices that enhance ecosystem resilience. As we continue to innovate and refine these techniques, our commitment to protecting marine environments grows stronger, paving the way for a cleaner and more sustainable future for generations to come.

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