A novel absorbent-skimmer technology for cleaning oil spills

A. H. Al-Marzouqi, A. Busamra, F. Mohammed, S. Al-Shehhi, W. Abdulwahab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oil spills cause major economic and environmental problems in the world because of their impact to the marine life, beaches, and industrial facilities, which depend on the intake of clean seawater such as desalination plants. The main objective of this study was to evaluate and utilize a continuous process for the fast, effective and economical removal of oil from seawater. In ths study a new method consisting of absorbent and skimming technology was used to clean up oil spills and minimize their environmental effects. In order to find the best absorbent, the efficacy of different native absorbents for cleaning oil spills on seawater under typical UAE environmental conditions was evaluated. Results showed that low-density polyurethane sponge was the best absorbent for typical UAE crude oils based on its high capacity for absorbing oil, fast rate of absorption, high efficiency, low cost, availability in UAE, ease of handling, and its reuse potential. Absorption rate of oil in the capillary pores of the sponge was modeled using the Washburn equation and found to agree very well with experimental results. Efficiency of the bench scale equipment was about 96% and the collected liquid mixture contained 90% oil and 10% water. A large-scale process was designed for the clean up of an oil spill as large as the Kuwait oil spill (1.7 million m3). Design of this large-scale process included 200 spongeskimmer units to clean the oil spill in approximately six months and the total estimated cost was 38 million Dollars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalWIT Transactions on the Built Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Building and Construction
  • Transportation
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Safety Research
  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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