Bitumen on Water: Charred Hay as a PFD (Petroleum Flotation Device)
Journal of Marine Science and Engineering
Global demand for petroleum keeps increasing while traditional supplies decline. One alternative to the use of conventional crude oils is the utilization of Canadian bitumen. Raw bitumen is a dense, viscous, semi-liquid that is diluted with lighter crude oil to permit its transport through pipelines to terminals where it can then be shipped to global markets. When spilled, it naturally weathers to its original form and becomes dense enough to sink in aquatic systems. This severely limits oil
... erely limits oil spill recovery and remediation options. Here we report on the application of charred hay as a method for modifying the surface behavior of bitumen in aquatic environments. Waste or surplus hay is abundant in North America. Its surface can easily be modified through charring and/or chemical treatment. We have characterized the modified and charred hay using solid-state NMR, contact angle measurements and infrared spectroscopy. Tests of these materials to treat spilled bitumen in model aquatic systems have been undertaken. Our results indicate that bitumen spills on OPEN ACCESS water will retain their buoyancy for longer periods after treatment with charred hay, or charred hay coated with calcium oxide, improving recovery options.