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 Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>