Oil Spill Emulsification Predictions
Predicting facets of oil behavior is an essential component of understanding the nature of a particular oil spill. One such behavior is emulsification, when oil picks up water and retains it for a period of time. A proposed new ASTM standard, WK41247, Test Method for the Evaluation of the Stability of Water-in-Oil Mixtures Formed from Crude Oil and Petroleum Products Mixed with Saline Water, will provide a laboratory test to determine how various types of oil will interact with water in oil spill situations.
ASTM member Mervin Fingas notes that water-in-oil emulsions, which are often called “chocolate mousse” by oil spill workers, can make oil spill clean-up difficult. When such emulsions form, the physical properties of oil change dramatically, turning a liquid product into a heavy, semi-solid material that cannot be easily removed with ordinary spill recovery equipment.
The standard will be used in laboratories to determine how various types of oil will react in oil spill situations. Information gleaned from such testing will lead to more effective oil spill recovery.
The proposed standard is being developed by Subcommittee F20.16 on Surveillance and Tracking, part of ASTM Committee F20 on Hazardous Substances and Oil Spill Response. All interested parties are welcome to join in the ongoing standards development activities of F20.16. People working in standard oil analysis are particularly encouraged to participate.