Oil sorption behavior of fibrous substrates

Date

2017-05

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Abstract

Oil spills such as the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico incident of 2010 are a threat to the ecosystem. In addition to the pollution caused due to the oil, synthetic sorbents are a hazard to the environment. Synthetic fibers like polypropylene occupy a major share of the oil spill cleanup industry. Being non-biodegradable, the oil soaked synthetic sorbents pose a risk to the environment when they are disposed. Furthermore, if the oil soaked polypropylene sorbents are left behind on the sea, they also pose a risk to the marine biodiversity. Therefore, there is an urgent need to replace these synthetic fibers with cost-effective biodegradable fibers. The use of natural sorbents like wool, jute, straw and cotton grass is limited in oil spill cleanup due to their affinity towards water. This is the case with most natural sorbents as they are hydrophilic in nature and therefore do not perform well on a water-oil bath tests. The interest in research using cotton as an oil sorbent has recently increased. Raw cotton, a biodegradable, cellulosic material overcomes the shortcomings synthetic fibers hold. The research done on cotton provides little information regarding the oil sorption behavior of raw cotton and its comparison with synthetic fibers. This study aims at investigating the oil sorption behavior of raw cotton. The effect of absorption time, cotton micronaire, and oil type on the oil sorption capacity has been presented. In addition, a refined methodology has been used to compare the oil sorption capacities of cotton and commercially available polypropylene fibers. The statistical analysis show strong evidence that low micronaire raw cotton performs better than the commercially available polypropylene fibers. These results are critical in presenting the case for the use of low cost, high performance, natural, biodegradable sorbent for oil spill cleanup.

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Keywords

Oil spill, Cotton

Citation