Oil raises many environmental concerns, but one of the most drastic consequences of the industry is the production of spills. Not only are these unsightly, they also have a serious and lasting effect on the environment. Indeed, even the oil recovered after such a spill is problematic to re-use due to the high levels of particulate matter and water which result from retrieving the oil.
The cause of oil spills
Oil spills are nearly always caused by one of two factors:
- Human error
- Equipment failure
Whether they happen on land or within a body of water, these spills happen on a scale which is all too common. They’re problematic for wildlife, the water table, and pretty much everything in general when you get down to it.
Marine oil spills get most of the attention, and for good reason: there are more of them and they generally have far more damaging impacts upon the environment.
While most of us have heard of some of the larger spills, the sad fact of the matter is that occur more frequently than most people are aware of. Not all spills are as bad as the release of a nearly full tanker into the ocean, many are quite a bit smaller and occur during routine processes such as loading and unloading.
While modern efforts at oil reclamation which result from these processes has improved quite a bit over past efforts, the fact remains that the oil itself still exists. Many assume it to cease to be a problem once it has been recovered and dispersed but nothing could be further from the truth.
The aftermath of oil spills
Often, up to 10-15% of the oil can be recovered and reprocessed by those who made the spill in the first place. This is done by skimming the water, since oil nearly always floats when exposed to saltwater.
The oil which remains in the water is exposed to salt, forms complex emulsions with water, and is generally considered to be a complete waste, or slop, oil. This contributes greatly to the amount of hydrocarbons residing in our landfills and makes it a concern even after the recovery efforts have been initiated.
Marine oil spills get most of the attention, and for good reason!
Even on land the recovery efforts are generally problematic. What oil can be skimmed off the ground must be reprocessed and that which settles into the soil has ridiculous levels of particulate matter which render it essentially hazardous material instead of the useful solution it once was. Quite often much of the topsoil must be removed, which is particularly problematic in agricultural areas.
The oil which can be recovered from either kind of spill is usually reprocessed as well as possible and must be sold at a much lower grade.
In essence, the oil spill hurts the environment, the people who must labor to recover it, and the bottom line of the industry itself. With thousands of events having occurred, it’s becoming increasingly important to find a way to minimize the amount of waste which results in an environmentally friendly manner.
The disposal of environmentally unfriendly slop oil
Getting rid of this slop oil isn’t nearly as easy as it is to produce. Incineration was one of the go-to methods in the past, but it’s extremely energy intensive due to the large proportion of water contained within the waste itself.
Even the storage of the oil is problematic, since it’s often stored in “lagoons” which are rather dangerous to the environment due to their very nature.
Thus, the preferred method of disposal has been to mix them with crude oil and put them through a refinery. This is a logistics nightmare and ends up costing companies untold amounts of money simply to reprocess material which they have already paid to pull from the ground.
Even mechanical separation of the products quite often results in an oil of much lower quality than desired, meaning that the company has to deal with tons of losses after an oil spill of any sort.
It’s a complex problem and it would seem that there is no end to the difficulties associated with any kind of oil spill. Environmental havoc, high costs for the company, and the nightmare of logistics are all part of dealing with something that happens much more commonly than anyone wants to think about.
Slop oil, such as that recovered from these spills, is one of the most technically demanding processes found in the world of waste management. The simple fact is, most companies don’t have the technology to deal with it adequately.
There is, however, a company which has utilized their technology specifically for situations which deal with this horrendous mixture of oil, particulate matter, and water.
Slop oil recovery - an efficient solution
While the environmental hazard has already been finished by the time the oil is recovered, the idea of recovering the oil is both profitable for the company involved and environmentally responsible since there won’t be a gap in supply where the oil once was.
Slop oil recovery plants use Double Separation Technology (DST) to recover slop oils within their plant. With a processing volume of 10,000 tons and upwards, it’s a great way for companies to remain environmentally responsible in the clean-up which results from an oil spill.
Slop oil recovery plants can recover multiple grades of slop oil within the same facility and even within the same process. The recovery of oil from spills is much easier with Slop oil recovery technology than through any other process.
More than just a solution for marine pollution, the Slop oil recovery technology can be utilized anywhere complex slop oils can be found and make for an environmentally friendly solution.
The resulting fractions are in three parts:
- The oil-Ready for reprocessing with little difficulty.
- The water-Which contains less than 15ppm of oil, and can be re-used in the process or sent to a waste water unit.
- Sludge- The particulate matter is removed as a perfectly dry material, which is easy to transport away from the plant for later disposal.
Indeed, while oil spills will remain a concern for as long as human error is in play during the transportation of oils, Slop oil recovery can make for an easy, green recovery which reduces the waste of such accidents and avoids creating a hole in the markets.By utilizing this technology, companies can move forward from a spill and recover more of their profits… instead of having to store it and contribute to even more problems.