Testing dispersant effectiveness under conditions similar to that of the open environment is required for improvements in operational procedures and the formulation of regulatory guidelines. To this end, a novel wave tank facility was fabricated to study the dispersion of crude oil under regular non-breaking and irregular breaking wave conditions. This wave tank facility was designed for operation in a flow-through mode to simulate both wave- and current-driven hydrodynamic conditions. We report here an evaluation of the effectiveness of chemical dispersants (Corexit® EC9500A and SPC 1000™) on two crude oils (Medium South American [MESA] and Alaska North Slope [ANS]) under two different wave conditions (regular non-breaking and plunging breaking waves) in this wave tank. The dispersant effectiveness was assessed by measuring the water column oil concentration and dispersed oil droplet size distribution. In the absence of dispersants, nearly 8-19% of the test crude oils were dispersed and diluted under regular wave and breaking wave conditions. In the presence of dispersants, about 21-36% of the crude oils were dispersed and diluted under regular waves, and 42-62% under breaking waves. Consistently, physical dispersion under regular waves produced large oil droplets (volumetric mean diameter or VMD ≥ 300 μm), whereas chemical dispersion under breaking waves created small droplets (VMD ≤ 50 μm). The data can provide useful information for developing better operational guidelines for dispersant use and improved predictive models on dispersant effectiveness in the field.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science
- Dynamic dispersant effectiveness
- Oil spill
- Particle size distribution