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Opinions of Sunday, 28 October 2012

Columnist: Anim-Mensah, Alexander

A Complete Solution for Oil-Spill Cleanup

Scientists are describing what may be a "complete solution" to cleaning up oil spills -- a superabsorbent material that sorps up 40 times its own weight in oil and then can be shipped to an oil refinery and processed to recover the oil.

T. C. Mike Chung and Xuepei Yuan point out that the current methods for coping with oil spills like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster are low-tech, decades-old and have many disadvantages. Corncobs, straw and other absorbents, for instance, can hold only about 5 times their own weight and pick up water, as well as oil. Those materials then become industrial waste that must be disposed of in special landfills or burned.
Their solution is a polymer material that transforms an oil spill into a soft, solid oil-containing gel. One pound of the material can recover about 5 gallons of crude oil. The gel is strong enough to be collected and transported. Then, it can be converted to a liquid and refined like regular crude oil. That oil would be worth $15 when crude oil sells for $100 a barrel. "Overall, this cost-effective new polyolefin oil-SAP technology shall dramatically reduce the environmental impacts from oil spills and help recover one of our most precious natural resources," the authors said.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2012) -
Original article on appeared in ACS' journal Energy & Fuels

Comments - As oil abounds in Ghana and we as citizens counting our blessings should constantly remind ourselves of the downside. A downside that is silently awaiting to happen and that is OIL SPILL. Oil spill is inevitable in oil and gas business, from drilling to lifting amidst ocean liner and other transporting means. But the negligence to effectively clean up the spill is what could result in future problems. I know that Ghana as well as the citizens are making their best efforts to prevent any future catastrophic occurrences and are also looking into effective ways of cleaning up spills should there be any occurrence. The following are some of the questions that come to bear in effective cleaning up of oil spills
• How effective can one clean?
• What extent one want to clean and in what time?
• How much is one willing to spend?
• What technologies are available and at what cost?
• Attractiveness of the cleaning technologies?
The above article seems to present a technology which is effective to clean oil spill and captured oil refined with attractive paybacks.
I believe the above information provide some highlights and clues to solving some of the foreseeable and inevitable oil spill.

Alexander Anim-Mensah, PhD
Dayton Ohio