Title Herding surfactants to contract and thicken oil spills in pack ice for in situ burning
Author Buist, I.; Potter, S.; Nedwed, T.; Mullin, J.
Author Affil Buist, I., SL Ross Environmental Research, Ottawa, ON, Canada. Other: ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company; U. S. Department of the Interior
Source Cold Regions Science and Technology, 67(1-2), p.3-23, . Publisher: Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands. ISSN: 0165- 232X
Publication Date Jun. 2011
Notes In English. Based on Publisher- supplied data GeoRef Acc. No: 309714
Index Terms ice; oil spills; pack ice; pollution; surface waters; surfactants; temperature; thickness; burning; concentration; remediation; sea ice; surface water
Abstract In situ burning is an oil spill response option particularly suited to remote, ice-covered waters. The key to effective in situ burning is thick oil slicks. If ice concentrations are high, the ice can limit oil spreading and keep slicks thick enough to burn. In drift ice conditions and open water, oil spills can rapidly spread to become too thin to ignite. Fire-resistant booms can collect and keep slicks thick in open water; however, even light ice conditions make using booms challenging. A multi-year research project was initiated to study oil-herding surfactants as an alternative to booms for thickening slicks in light ice conditions for in situ burning. Small-scale laboratory experiments were completed in 2003 and 2005 to examine the idea of using herding agents to thicken oil slicks among loose pack ice for the purpose of in situ burning. Encouraging results prompted further mid-scale testing in 2006 and 2007 at the US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover, NH; at Ohmsett, the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility in Leonardo, NJ; and, at the Fire Training Grounds in Prudhoe Bay, AK. The non-proprietary hydrocarbon-based herder formulation used in these experiments proved effective in considerably contracting oil slicks in brash and slush ice concentrations of up to 70% coverage. Slicks in excess of 3 mm thick, the minimum required for ignition of weathered crude oil on water, were routinely achieved. Herded slicks were ignited, and burned equally well in both brash and slush ice conditions at air temperatures as low as -17C. The burn efficiencies measured for the herded slicks were only slightly less than the theoretical maximums achievable for equivalent-sized, physically contained slicks on open water. Successful meso-scale field trials of the technique were carried out in the Barents Sea off Svalbard in the spring of 2008 as one facet of a large joint industry project on oil spill response in ice co-ordinated by SINTEF. The larger field experiment involved the release of 630L of fresh Heidrun crude onto water in a large lead. The free-drifting oil was allowed to spread for 15 min until it was far too thin to ignite (0.4 mm), and then the hydrocarbon-based herder was applied around the slick periphery. The slick contracted and thickened for approximately 10 min at which time the upwind end was ignited. A 9-minute long burn ensued that consumed an estimated 90% of the oil. From 2007 to 2009 experiments were carried out in the laboratory and at CRREL comparing the efficacy of herding agents formulated with silicone-based surfactants, herding agents formulated with second-generation fluorosurfactants, and the hydrocarbon-based herder. The results showed that the fluorosurfactant-based herders did not function better than the hydrocarbon-based herder; however, the new silicone surfactant formulations considerably outperformed the hydrocarbon-based herder. Most recently, experiments were conducted to determine if herding agents could: 1) improve skimming of spilled oil in drift ice; 2) clear oil from salt marshes; and, 3) improve the efficiency of dispersant application operations.
URL http://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.coldregions.2011.02.004
Publication Type journal article
Record ID 65006387