Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sunken tanker may help cleanup in future accidents

25.01.2005


A model of the leak dynamics of the oil tanker, Prestige, that sunk off the coast of Spain in 2002, may help assess recovery and cleanup methods for future tanker accidents, according to an international team of researchers.



"We believe that 14,000 metric tons (15,400 British tons) of oil were recovered from the tanker using the shuttle-bag system, and that between 16,000 (17,600) and 23,000 (25,300) tons of oil are still in the ship," says Dr. Bernd J. Haupt, senior research associate, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State.

From June to September 2004, a bagging method – the shuttle-bag system – that placed containers over the oil stream seeping out of the tanker, collected the leaking fuel. The impact of the sinking of the oil tanker is the focus of a study lead by an international team of researchers.


The Prestige is of interest because it sank in about 12,000 feet of water, deeper than most tanker wrecks, making full recovery of the oil impossible. Even though the tanker has, for the most part, stopped leaking oil, eventually, it will leak again.

"The remaining 30 percent of the oil is comprised of asphaltenes and resins which are not easily degradable,""says Haupt. "Normally, salt water would rust through the hull in about 23 years, but in this case, a bacteria that devours iron is present and it will take only 4 years before the wreck stats to leak again."

With the variety of problems surrounding the Prestige, the researchers, who included Maria J. Marcos, Almudena Aguero, and Jose L. De Pablos, CIEMAT, Madrid and Antonio Garcia-Olivares, ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, developed a model that considered the depth of the wreck, how much oil was in the ship, the water and oil temperature at the ocean floor, the type of oil, ocean currents and the location and size of the cracks in the hull.

The Prestige is a single hull tanker and the force of the pressure at that depth partially crushed many of the compartments. By now, the oil has cooled to the temperature of the surrounding water, which is not cold enough to solidify the oil.

The model study accurately recreated the series of events that occurred in the release of the oil from the tanker, the team reported in a recent issue of Scientia Marina.

"This method can help us to deal with future wrecks," says Haupt. "If another tanker sinks and we analyze it, we can determine how long it will take for most of the oil to leak out. If the time it takes to mount a confinement or pumping effort is longer than the time it takes to leak out, then there is no point in beginning the effort."

One problem with the Prestige and other tankers is that it is common practice to underreport the amount of oil in a tanker to save on insurance costs. According to Haupt, the model, which is based on the reported amount of oil, could underrepresent the impact of the oil spill.

"We do not know what is going to happen with the wreck of the Prestige," says the Penn State researcher. "We do not know what the new government of Spain is going to do or what will happen. However, this research has highlighted the fact that at this time, the economic and environmental costs are greater than those of the Exxon Valdez oil spill."

Since the oil inside the tanks is expected to have been decanted, its solid part cannot flow to the bags. However, in the future, large fractures in the tanks, which will be produced by corrosion, will expose the remaining oil. These asphaltenes and resins may be transported by ocean currents when the hull is corroded and may become a future environmental problem, the researchers report.

A’ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>