Taking on oil slick now easier

AL AIN -The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) has adopted a research, conducted by a team from the College of Engineering of the UAE University, titled Innovation for clean up of oil spills in open seas and oceans, university top official told Khaleej Times.

By Sadiq A. Salam

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Published: Sun 5 Oct 2003, 12:44 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 11:28 PM

"The group has succeeded in finding an innovative solution to the recovery of spilled crude oil from seas and oceans, based on the density difference between crude oil and water as well as the energy of the injected air bubbles to move the crude oil spill towards a recovery unit," Dr Omer Chaalal, head of the team, told Khaleej Times.

In addition to Dr Omer Chaalal, the team included Dr Mamdouh Ghannam, engineer Samy Abdullah and a number of senior women students as part of their graduation project during the first semester of the academic year 2002/2003.

To implement the research, Dr Omar Chaalal has designed a tanker to recover the lost oil, "Which not only helps to reduce any environmental damage but also produces a sellable product," he said.

Dr Chaalal added, "We place a large tank, completely filled with seawater, on board the recovery ship before it leaves the dock. When it approaches an oil slick, the ship opens a series of holes in the bottom of the hull to connect the water in the tank to the water outside," he added.

Just like a pint glass full of water that is upturned in a filled sink, the water in the tank does not flood out as long as the holes remain unchanged, he said.

As the ship moves along, its specially designed hull shape forces any oil it encounters underneath the boat past the holes. Because oil is less dense than seawater, it rises up through the holes to the top of the tank. As the oil builds up in the tank, it gradually displaces the seawater until it contains nothing but oil. The holes are closed and the ship returns to dock to unload its catch, he added.

Dr Chaalal has demonstrated the technique using a scale model 60cm long in a tank containing a one-litre "slick" of crude oil and to simulate sea conditions, the tank was agitated and it recovered 99 per cent of the oil in only a couple of minutes.

The Unido has also initiated a dialogue with the research sector of the UAE University and proposed funding of its implementation in some major oil spills, starting with the recent tanker oil spill (Tasman Spirit) that took place in Karachi, Pakistan.

The research has also been met with acclaim from international specialists and institutions like Mr Graham-Rowe of the New Scientist Magazine, Mr Will Hendry, Operations Supervisor for Briggs Environmental Services and Mr Kare Jorgensen, an advisor on operations to the Norwegen Oil Spill Recovery Organisation (NOSRO.

The research has been published by a number of international scientific magazines like the International Journal of Fuel and the New Scientist Magazine, he said.

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