Oil spills are among the environment’s worst enemies. Marine life is severely threatened whenever an oil tanker or similar vessels suffer from damage, resulting in its tanks leaking out oil into the water.
Many countries take this type of environmental hazard seriously and the companies that operate these vessels are mandated to implement remediation activities in the soonest possible time, with severe sanctions and penalties imposed not just for the accident itself, but also for delays in the remediation.
Oil spills likewise occurs in industrial facilities and when they do, the owners must have the appropriate solutions in place to prevent further damage to the environment and the adverse health effects. Oil absorbent products are a staple in oil tankers, as well as commercial and industrial workplaces.
Oil Recovery Using Skimmers and Oil Absorbent Products
The major activity required for this type of accident is oil recovery. Oil skimmers are deployed to the area and are instrumental in recovering a major volume of the oil spill. However, these machines are effective only to a certain point; they are not able to recover 100% of the oil.
The remaining oil is recovered through the use of sorbents, which are products made of one or more insoluble materials that absorb the oil upon contact. These materials “attract” the oil, but repel the water.
Two Classifications of Sorbent Materials
1. Natural – These are inexpensive and naturally occurring substances that are mostly used in their raw states. There are two sub-classifications of natural sorbents, namely:
- Organic, which absorb up to 15 times their weight. People attach them to flotation devices, such as empty drums, and then drop them into the oil spill. Hay, grounded corncobs, feathers, and straw are good examples of organic sorbents.
- Inorganic, which can absorb up to 20 times their weight. Examples of these materials include clay, perlite, glass wool, and sand.
2. Synthetic – These materials are manually produced using a chemical process and can absorb up to 70 times their weight. Examples of synthetic sorbents are polyurethane and cross-linked rubber.
Environmental protection is a must because the people and other living creatures suffer from the consequences of oil spills. Accidents do happen, but their impact on the environment must be resolved right away. In the case of oil spills, immediate remediation is a must, and there are reliable equipment and materials for the job.