What causes floating oil sheen on water and why is it so menacing to spill containment?
Almost all hydrocarbons will form a film or sheen when spilled on water.
Oil sheen is a very thin layer of oil floating on water that spreads out. As the thin layer of oil spreads on the water, the oil changes in color from black or brown to a rainbow of colors. The color of the oil sheen can be related to the thickness of the oil.
When it comes to spill containment, the environmental impact of floating oil sheens is not as dramatic as the oil spill. However it only takes an oil sheen for an oil spill to be reportable and there is a long-term ecological impact. The long-term effect is the destruction of habitat.
Transient oil sheens on open water from spill containment might not cause any permanent habitat loss and may eventually dissipate due to wave action. However chronic oil sheen conditions from the outflow of a factory holding pond or in a marina don’t have the same quick weathering effect. Because they are habitual, they could cause a change in habitat and can have a detrimental environmental impact. That is why floating oil sheen is a reportable event.
So how do you go about removing floating oil sheen from water? Since oil sheen is very thin, conventional spill containment isn’t enough and it is not practical to use mechanical systems like skimmers to remove it from the water.
Factories and marinas often use a combination of oil-only absorbent boom and pillows with oil-only absorbent pads to try to remove oil sheens. The booms, pillows and pads are made of things like activated peat moss, cellulose or polypropylene.
This traditional way of removing floating oil sheen on water appears like it works to a degree. However there are problems. These products habitually leach oil upon removal because they cannot retain the oil.
Some so-called solidifying polymers require an uptake time as long as 45 minutes. In addition these polymers swell up to 229 times their original volume. This results in a huge volumetric increase of the materials to be disposed of.
Conventional booms, blankets and pillows tend to sink when saturated.
So what is the solution?
Our clients use our fast acting SheenGuard** pillows and blankets to remove floating oil from factory outflows and marinas.
Unlike slow acting absorbent polymers, SheenGuard pillows and blankets filled with PetroGuard D® are fast acting and designed to prevent sinking while allowing them to absorb all traces of the oil they come in contact with. Best of all….they do not leach.
The entrepreneurial nature of Guardian Environmental Technologies is what drives us to find ways to individualize solutions to meet customer needs.
Give us a call us today at (860) 350-2200 and let our innovative solutions save you money.
*Laboratory tests on some super absorbent polymers show an uptake time of 15 minutes for diesel fuel and 360 minutes for crude oil with volumetric increases of ≤290%.
**SheenGuard pillows and blankets are made with our proprietary solidifying absorben PetroGuard D with an uptake time for diesel oil @ .05 minutes and crude oil @ 1 minute and a volumetric increase of ≤15%.