Oil Absorbing and Vapor Retaining Fibrous Mats
Vinitkumar Singh1, Utkarsh Sata1, Sudheer Jinka1, Muralidhar Lalagiri1, Amit Kapoor2 and Seshadri Ramkumar1 1Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 2First Line Technologies, Chantilly, VA email@example.com
Recently, human health and environmental issues are surfacing up in the Gulf of Mexico due to toxic gases associated with the deepwater horizon rig explosion. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently endorsed a research study which shows the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at depths up to 400 meters below the ocean surface. Even though these PAHs are detected at very low concentrations, they are known to cause cancer and other health problems over prolonged exposure. There have been 143 health related cases in Louisiana due to the oil spill exposure. Conventional polypropylene based nonwovens are known to have oil absorbing capability. However, with detection of subsurface plumes that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene and xylene, it is important to have remediation tools which can not only absorb the oil but also adsorb the toxic vapors associated with it. Recent research at Texas Tech University has shown that absorbing mats made from raw cotton and activated carbon fabric were able to provide solution to this complex and uncertain issue. Fundamental aspects on the absorption and adsorption characteristics of mats will be dealt in the presentation.
Experimental results from our lab show that each cotton-carbon composite is able to absorb 15 grams of motor oil. This result matches with the oil absorption capacity of commercially available polypropylene sorbents. Additionally, experiments have been performed on crude oil obtained from an oil pump in Texas.
FIGURE 1. Initial Field Test of Cotton-Carbon Nonwoven in Grand Isle, LA (Credit First Line Technology)
Initial field study undertaken on the oiled shores of Grand Isle, Louisiana shows that the three layered cotton-carbon composite was able to absorb viscous and semisolid oil (see Fig.1). In addition, lab tests have shown that the middle carbon layer of the cotton-carbon composite, when challenged with vapors of VOC toluene, can adsorb this VOC up to 25 % of the carbon layer’s weight. This nonwoven composite gives an edge over synthetic sorbents as it allows for an environmentally safe, biodegradable technology that is perfect for the expanding effort to protect and decontaminate coastal lands and wildlife. This presentation will focus on the development, oil absorption capability evaluation and vapor adsorption/retention studies of the three layered cotton-carbon nonwoven composite.
 Ramkumar, SS; Love, AH; Sata, UR, et al. “Next-Generation Nonparticulate Dry Nonwoven Pad for Chemical Warfare Agent Decontamination,” Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Vol., No. 47, 24, 2008, 9889-9895.