Solving Problems with Chemicals


Oil Spill Dispersant & Industrial Degreaser : Same ...But Different

Oil spill dispersants are chemical products that formulated to disperse and clean up accidental oil spill at sea, on beaches, or on decks. Surfactants ( surface active agents ) and solvents are the vital components found in these products  for rapid and effective dispersal of oil slick. A right application of oil spill dispersant can effectively aid  floating oil slick to break up into fine oil droplets and moving into water column.

Degreasers  act as detergents for removing oils and greases, dirt from hard surfaces by the action of emulsification.  Right combination of surfactants,  from  one or more  categories ( anionic, cationic, non-ionic  )  with builders, solvents, water, caustic is essential to yield  satisfactory degreasing performance.

One can see that both oil spill dispersants and degreasers do contain surfactants.  Surfactants  act as wetting agents that lower  surface tension of  a liquid, interfacial tension between two liquids ( for example water and oil in this topic ),  or that  between a liquid and a solid.

Surfactant are chemical compounds that, usually with organic structure, containing both hydrophilic  ( "head" ) and  oleophilic groups ( "tail" ).  In this context, if  an oil spill dispersant were to apply to a slick,  the hydrophilic ( water-loving ) heads would  attract to water while the oleophilic ( oil-loving ) tails extend out into oil phase. Such bridging orientation  greatly reduces the interfacial tension between water phase ( sea water ) and oil phase ( oil slick ). Thus, lower energy is needed to mix spilled oil into water.

Alignment of Mono-Layer of  Surfactant Molecules in between Oil Phase and Water Phase

With the assistance of some form of mixing energy,  for example boat wake action or energy from natural wave, discrete droplets are formed. Each droplet is surrounded by a layer of surfactant molecules thereby reducing its tendency to reunite to form slick. In short, the oil slick is emulsified, smaller oil droplets transfer into water column, which may cause less harm, easier to degrade or readily to consume  by micro organisms as food. 

Oil  and Water : Before and After adding Oil Spill Dispersant ( Surfactant )

Evolution of Oil Spill Dispersants

The use of oil spill dispersant in  mid-1960s  was   believed to be some form of  industrial degreaser - the  first generation dispersant - in response to the spill incident  of  Torrey Canyon near England. Industrial degreasers could contain surfactants, aromatic hydrocarbons and other chemicals that harmful to aquatic lives and  ecology as a whole.

Oil Spill Dispersants :  Comparison of Generation & Type

New dispersants were developed since then where aquatic toxicology was taken into consideration. The  second  generation oil spill dispersants  are  formulated with surfactants and non-aromatic solvents, where they are applied neat ( without dilution ) from vessels.

The third generation dispersants  are high concentration products, which can be applied neat or undiluted, from both aircraft and vessels

OSD 99  Oil Spill Dispersant is an easy-to-use,  fast acting  dispersant for responding to spilled oil on sea, on beaches, or on decks. Very effective in cleaning up heavy fuel, light to medium crude oil.

You might also interested in:
1. Oil Spill Dispersant Product
2. Biodegradable Cleaners
3. Using oil spill dispersants on the sea  from Google Books