How oil properties and layer thickness determine the entrainment of spilled surface oil

Marieke Zeinstra-Helfrich, Wierd Koops, Albertinka J Murk
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2016 September 15, 110 (1): 184-93
Viscosity plays an important role in dispersion of spilled surface oil, so does adding chemical dispersants. For seven different oil grades, entrainment rate and initial droplet size distribution were investigated using a plunging jet apparatus with coupled camera equipment and subsequent image analysis. We found that amount of oil entrained is proportional to layer thickness and largely independent of oil properties: A dispersant dose of 1:200 did not result in a significantly different entrainment rate compared to no dispersants. Oil viscosity had a minor to no influence on entrainment rate, until a certain threshold above which entrainment was impeded. The mean droplet size scales with the modified Weber number as described by Johansen. The obtained results can help improve dispersion algorithms in oil spill fate and transport models, to aid making an informed decision about application of dispersants.

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