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Rapid-Attachment Of Crude Oil And Washability Of Sand Beaches And Marsh Lands: Effects Of Berms And Dispersants


<p>The investigators will evaluate greener, nano-scale, bio-surfactants based solutions to the problems of spreading of oil and cleaning of the spill from the shore and Marsh lands. Oil soaked in beach sands and marsh lands has already affected the ecosystem dramatically. Besides, the issues persist for several years and environmentally benign solutions are still lacking. Thus an urgent need is to develop greener solutions to preserve the ecosystem. Our approach will be utilization of bio-surfactants to study the solubilization of crude droplets without the influence of shear. It is also important to remove the solubilized oil from beach sands and marsh lands with minimum disturbance to the areas. First, to model the removal of oil from beach sand in a laboratory set up, the work will include quantifying coalescence, reaction and transport in several multiphase systems in transparent porous media pack. Furthermore we will treat beach sand with bio-surfactants followed by separation of oil using flotation or hydrocyclones. Second, solubilized oil in marsh lands can be treated to form a separate phase over water and be removed. To explore this idea, the investigators will determine rheological properties of oil solubilized using biopolymers and also by manipulating conditions such as pH, and salinity to obtain desired separation. For long term solution, the PIs will explore microbial-oil interactions to degrade oil. Though all the above mentioned procedures are applicable, the oil has formed a thick layer and cruds in and around the water in Marsh lands. The PIs will evaluate technologies to mechanically remove such oil by various techniques as flotation and using hydrophobic fibers.
<br>Intellectual Merit: The project will provide fundamental understanding of the structure-property relationships of various greener bio-surfactants in oil solubilization. Fundamental aspects will relate to spatial arrangement of functional groups, effect of carbon chain length and biodegradability of the greener surfactants. Further, the proposed study of transport through packed bed should yield fundamental insight into the mechanisms of attachment and resultant changes in wettability on the flow of the oil through complex porous systems.
<br>Broader Impact: With growing global concern over the toxicity and poor biodegradability of surfactants/polymers used in of industries, recent focus has been on application of greener bio-surfactants/biopolymers. Various sectors interested in such greener reagents range from mineral processing, alternative energy, personal care, food industries, and petroleum industries. The research findings on structure property evaluation should provide valuable insight in evaluating reagents for their greenness based on the structure of the molecules. The multidisciplinary subject of the proposed research will attract talented students from diverse groups.</p>

Somasundaran, Ponisseril; Papadopoulos, Kyriakos; Blum, Michael
Columbia University
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