Development of a unified oil droplet size distribution model with application to surface breaking waves and subsea blowout releases considering dispersant effects

Zhengkai Li, Malcolm Spaulding, Deborah French McCay, Deborah Crowley, James R Payne
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2017 January 15, 114 (1): 247-257
An oil droplet size model was developed for a variety of turbulent conditions based on non-dimensional analysis of disruptive and restorative forces, which is applicable to oil droplet formation under both surface breaking-wave and subsurface-blowout conditions, with or without dispersant application. This new model was calibrated and successfully validated with droplet size data obtained from controlled laboratory studies of dispersant-treated and non-treated oil in subsea dispersant tank tests and field surveys, including the Deep Spill experimental release and the Deepwater Horizon blowout oil spill. This model is an advancement over prior models, as it explicitly addresses the effects of the dispersed phase viscosity, resulting from dispersant application and constrains the maximum stable droplet size based on Rayleigh-Taylor instability that is invoked for a release from a large aperture.

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