Oil droplet interaction with suspended sediment in the seawater column: influence of physical parameters and chemical dispersants

Lisbet Sørensen, Alf G Melbye, Andy M Booth
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2014 January 15, 78 (1): 146-52
The interaction of dispersed oil droplets with large diameter suspended particulate materials (SPM) has been little studied. In the current study, particle size, oil characteristics and chemical dispersant significantly influence the adsorption of oil droplets to SPM in seawater. Sediments with a smaller particulate size (clay) approaching that of the oil droplets (2-20 μm) adsorbed more oil per gram than sediments with large particle size (sand). Heavier, more polar oils with a high asphaltene content adsorbed more efficiently to SPM than lighter, less polar oils. A decrease in the smaller, more water soluble oil components in the sediment adsorbed oil was observed for all oil types. Addition of chemical dispersant decreased the adsorption of oil droplets to suspended carbonate sand in an exponential-like manner. No change in the relative distribution of compounds adsorbed to the sediment was observed, indicating dispersants do not alter the dissolution of compounds from oil droplets.

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