Friday, February 17, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Abigail L. Myers, Big Walnut High School, Sunbury, OH
Accidental oil spills near aquatic shorelines occur often, requiring effective clean-up methods. This experiment examined the ability of synthetic (polypropylene and polyurethane), and natural organic (cotton) sorbents to remove oil near aquatic shorelines through absorption and/or adsorption. Ten trials were conducted for each sorbent in two stages, quiescent and non-quiescent waters near shorelines, to test sorbent oleophilicity. Myers’ research and previous experimentation led to the hypothesis that cotton will prove most effective, followed by polypropylene, then polyurethane. An aquatic shoreline was simulated in a tilted wave tank containing gravel, 11 liters of 20°C water, and 20 ml of motor oil. Each sorbent was weighed to 1.5 g and placed in wave tank for 5 minutes. Sorbent was removed after 5 minutes and masses of used sorbent were determined. Individual sorbent oil mass ratios (mass of used sorbent containing recovered oil: mass dry sorbent) were calculated for the 60 trials. In quiescent conditions, cotton, with a mean oil mass ratio of 11.4 (σ=0.2), removed the most oil, followed by polypropylene (10.0, σ=0.2), and polyurethane (3.5, σ=0.3), supporting the hypothesis. In non-quiescent conditions, polypropylene, with a mean oil mass ratio of 15.1 (σ=0.4), removed the most oil, followed by cotton (14.9, σ=0.5), and polyurethane (10.4, σ=0.3), which did not support the hypothesis. Although this data does not support the hypothesis, the mean oil mass ratio of each sorbent increased in non-quiescent conditions due to the trapping of oil along the shoreline, especially in the case of polypropylene where the ratio noticeably increased.