Public Lab Research note

Oil sample concentration session at Barnraising

by warren | November 21, 2015 16:36 21 Nov 16:36 | #12428 | #12428

We're having a great discussion on how to concentrate oil samples collected from sheens and other places, following up on some of @matej's work in this research note.

Concentration of sheens

One question was on concentration. If you see a sheen, how do you know how much oil there is?

@eustatic mentioned the Bonn Agreement on Oil Appearance Code: mentioned in this oil sheen thickness guide by NOAA: (see lead image as well)



Concentration's affect on spectra

@ethanbass mentions tests he's done (and research he's found) that shows spectral change from different dilutions of diesel. But mentions the idea of looking at the darkness/opaqueness (using absorbence spectroscopy) of the sample as a measure of its concentration, which we could use to adjust for concentration in our tests.

So, if you have an unknown, at a certain opacity, you need to get your reference (crude oil, say) to the same opacity to make a comparison. You could use absorbence spectroscopy to achieve this, perhaps. (@ethanbass)


Oil absorbent cloths

@mathew has mentioned oil-only absorbent sheets from the Leak and Spill catalog (which is where I found the image above, so that's not open source) -- we found them here:

Oil-absorbent plastic cloth ($79 per hundred sheets):

This page says that the cloths "Can be wrung out and incinerated after use to reduce waste or for fuels blending", and are made of polypropelene.

More in the comments, coming!


There is a paper online "Natural Sorbents in Oil Spill Cleanup" by Hyung-Mln Chol - accessible here:

There is another paper that might be interesting but I cannot find free access - will try later: "Detection of trace amounts of oil in sea water by fluorescence spectroscopy" by P. D. Keizer, D. C. Gordon Jr.

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@eustatic mentions that they hope finding sheens in a larger area than a spill's initial assessment (say, by the Coast Guard, in the Bravo tanker spill he worked at near Freetown and Romeville, LA) would result in a larger volume assessment and thus greater fines, but the Coast Guard hasn't been good at sharing their work so it's hard to know the effects. He's written this up here

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