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Cleaning an "Oily" Situation

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Riya Tandra

on 19 June 2016

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Transcript of Cleaning an "Oily" Situation

Cleaning an "Oily" Situation
BY: Riya Tandra, Rina Thaker, Eliana Aerts, & Rankita Sinha
AP Chemistry
Oil Spills
Burning the oil:
If the spill happens out in sea, it can be burned because burning it creates a highly toxic smoke. Cannot be burned near the coastline because it also releases a lot of heat and gases into the atmosphere.
CH4 + 2O2 --> 2H2O + CO2 + energy

Oil Dispersant:
Speeds up the break down of the natural oil components and allow the oil to chemically bond with water. The main problem is the creation of tarballs which float and find their way to the shore. More harmful to coral reefs than the crude oil.

Oil containment/skimming
: If the spill is accessible within a few hours of occurring, large booms can be used to contain it. they are floating stoppers and made of plastic and metal. Once contained, it can be skimmed up. Does not work in adverse weather conditions such as rough seas and high winds.
Our Idea
Tap Water
Five 250 mL beakers
Olive Oil
Polypropylene-PP- Fabric & Plastic
High Density Polyethylene -HDPE- (walmart shopping bag)
Polystyrene-PS- (styrofoam cups)
Low Density Polyethylene -LDPE- (vegetable bag)
Objective: Wanted to find the best recyclable material to use that would absorb the most oil.
Poured 150 mL of tap water in each beaker and added 25 mL of Olive Oil on top of water. This would simulate an oil spill.
Then 1.0 g of each of the four materials was measured out and added in each beaker.
Each beaker was left overnight with a lid on top.
Beaker 1: Polystyrene (1.0 g)
Beaker 2: Polypropylene Fabric (0.9 g)
Beaker 3: Polypropylene (1.1 g)
Beaker 4: High-Density Polyethylene (1.0 g)
Beaker 5: Low- Density Polyethylene (0.97 g)
Results: (after 24 hours)
Took out material from each beaker to measure how much oil/water it absorbed.
Beaker #1-3 weighed between 3.4-3.6 g after 24 hours
Beaker #4 weighed 19.8 g
Beaker #5 weighed 21.2 g
The HDPE and LDPE (beaker #4&5) absorbed the most oil and would be the best materials to use to conduct our research.
Beaker #1
Beaker #2
Beaker #3
Beaker #4
After 24 hours
: Realized LDPE/HDPE were the best materials to use to absorb oil, so different experiments were conducted to maximize efficiency.
Common Methods Used:
Experiment 1:
Dangling LDPE/HDPE over oil to see if the oil would climb up the fibers
Experiment 2
: Placing HDPE/LDPE in a beaker with only olive oil (NO WATER) to see how much oil instead of water would be absorbed.
Experiment 3:
Place a sheet of HDPE and LDPE in a bath of water and oil to simulate a real world situation
: To see if increasing temperature has an effect on the plastics
25 mL of Olive Oil was placed in two beaker with NO WATER
1.01 g of HDPE and 1.0 g of LDPE was cut up and added
After 24 hours: HDPE (19.1 g) and LDPE (20.64 g)
The amount of oil not absorbed for HDPE was 1.8 mL and for LDPE was 1.4 mL
Placed a strip of LDPE and HDPE hanging over the olive oil
Same experiment was set up but 50 mL of oil instead of 25 mL was used.
HDPE (1.0g )
LDPE (1.05 g)
HDPE: 19.6 g
Amount Oil not absorbed:29 mL
LDPE: 25.52 g
Amount of Oil not absorbed: 17 mL
Final Conclusion:
For 25 mL of oil, the HDPE and LDPE were effective in absorbing the oil but for the 50 mL, more of the material may have been needed to use.
Place HDPE and LDPE in boiling water and mineral oil
Remove after 1 minute and place in 25 mL oil and 150 mL water
Mineral Oil:
161 degrees Celsius
1.05 g
Mass after leaving for 24 hours: 3.56 g
Amount of Oil not absorbed: 10 mL
97 degrees Celsius
1.01 g
Mass after leaving for 24 hours: 25.79 g
Amount of Oil not absorbed: 4 mL
Mineral Oil:
144 degrees Celsius
1.02 g
Mass after leaving for 24 hours: 4.27 g
Amount of Oil not absorbed: 20 mL
91 degrees Celsius
0.9 g
Mass after leaving for 24 hours: 23.72 g
Amount of Oil not absorbed: 18 mL
Final Conclusion:
The best results came from HDPE in water
To see if dipping the plastics in acid or base would change absorbency
1 g sheet of each material was placed in a tub containing 900 mL water and 75 mL olive oil
left overnight
Before: 1.0 g
After: 22.3 g

Amount of OIl absorbed: 30 mL
Amount of water absorbed: 225 mL

Before: 1.0 g
After: 42.95 g

Amount of Oil Absorbed: 58 mL
Amount of Water absorbed: 287 mL
Final Conclusion:
Laying the plastics down as a sheet helped increase the amount of oil absorbed
Original Experiment
Final Conclusion:
Although the HCL worked to remove olive oil from water, it altered the pH too much to be safe to use in a real world situation. The NaOH was ineffective in improving the absorbency of the LDPE.
Repeating the experiments which yielded the best results with gasoline
Place 1 g of HDPE and LDPE in 1M HCl and 1M NaOH and let soak overnight
Then transfer into beaker with water and oil
leave overnight
measure mass and record pH after leaving treated plastics in acid/base
pH of tap water was 7.3
27.37 g
amount of oil not absorbed:
1 mL

31.33 g
amount of oil not absorbed:
<1 mL

: 23.60 g
amount of oil not absorbed:
15 mL
: 21.97 g
amount of oil not absorbed:
17 mL

Final Conclusion:
The oil does not climb up plastic and for maximum oil absorption, the plastic must make complete contact with oil.
Improved Experiment Design:
Soaked 1 g HDPE and LDPE in 1M HCl overnight
Washed with water
Let dry for 24 hours
Then placed in oil and water
This was to increase the pH (make it more basic)

16.03 g
amount of oil not absorbed:
8 mL

18.48 g
amount of oil not absorbed:
9 mL

Second Trial of LDPE
Our first trial of LDPE in the water tub was very successful, but there was still about 17mL of olive oil left. To attempt to pick up the remaining oil, we put another 1 g layer of LDPE on the remaining oil and water.
An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment especially in marine areas, due to human activity and is a form of pollution.
Oil tankers have equipment faults
From nature and human activities on land (land oil spills)
water sports (boats)
drilling works carried out in sea
Oil can choke and blind the animals when contact is made
Affects the skin and feathers of animals by causing them to loose the ability to thermo regulate and float on water
Parents can't detect the smell of their young causing the young to be abandoned.
When the oil is lost, it affects the amount of oil/petroleum in circulation so more is bought.
Workers who are brought in to clean the spill face problems later in life from the chemicals they come in contact with.
Oil spills are also very expensive to clean up and clean up methods often cause more damage to the environment.
The liquid underneath turned
Final Conclusion:
Although the pH of the liquid was still acidic, we were able to increase it by 1 on the pH scale. The HDPE and LDPE absorbed less.
Beaker with 25 mL of gasoline NO WATER
Trial #1:
Amount not absorbed:
0 mL (beaker was dry)
Mass after
: 4.4 g
Trial #2: (repeated with the same experiment set up)
Amount not absorbed:
1 mL
Mass after:
7.4 g
Realized that the gas was evaporating instead of being absorbed, so experiment design needed to be altered
Trial #3: Sealed with high vacuum gel and para film with watch glass on top to prevent evaporation
Amount not absorbed:
8.9 mL
Mass after:
9.5 g

Trial #1:
amount not absorbed
: 1.1 mL
mass after
: 7.25 g
Trial #2: Sealed with high vacuum gel and para film with watch glass on top to prevent evaporation
amount not absorbed:
11.5 mL
mass after:
8.38 g
Our Motivation
After hearing about the devastating effects of oil spills on the coast across the world, we wanted to see if there was a cheaper, more effective method of cleaning the oil spills up. According to the LA Times, during the oil spill in California that recently occurred, approximately 21,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the pacific Ocean. This caused the deaths of 136 birds and 67 mammals, and our hope in this experiment was to find a better method of cleaning oil spills up that would be healthy for the environment and the animals living in it.

Cost for Implementation
Technically was more expensive to buy gas to "create" oil spill
HDPE and LDPE were from grocery store/vegetable bags
Considering all the plastic wasted annually, it is a great way to clean up oil spills and recycle wastes that would otherwise harm our ecosystem
How much plastic would we need to clean up the California oil spill?
During the California oil spill, approximately 21,000 gallons were leaked into the ocean. In order to clean this spill we would have needed:
1370.431 Kg of LDPE (3021.28 lbs)
3785 Kg of HDPE (8344.49 lbs).
How we can improve our experiment in the future
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Thermoplastic made from petroleum
Density is 0.93-0.97 g/cm^3
Little branching
Stronger intermolecular forces and strong tensile strength
Thermoplastic made from monomer ethylene
Density range of 0.91-0.94 g/cm^3
Has more branching than HDPE
Intermolecular forces are weaker and has lower tensile strength
Resilience is higher
Molecules are less tightly packed.
HCl and saltwater
determine the amount of oil the plastic absorbs more specifically
see if the plastic will absorb oil on a larger scale
use actual ocean water on tests for pH
determine how well the plastic cleans up gasoline when it is mixed with water
simulate waves during test
does the shape of the plastic effect performance
will different/stronger acids help the plastic absorb more oil
take more steps to regulate the pH of the water when using acid-treated plastics
see if plastic is as effective when absorbing crude oils
Using Plastics
During our research in how oil spills are treated, we discovered that small spills (such as kitchen spills) can be cleaned up using polypropylene pads. We wondered if this could be used on a larger scale and with heavier oils. We decided to experiment to see what types of plastic could absorb what types of oil. We determined polypropylene, LDPE, HDPE, and polystyrene were the best types of plastic to try. The oils we chose were olive oil and gasoline because that was what was available to us.
Experiment 4:
See if the salt from the ocean water affects results
150 mL water, 25 mL olive oil, 7.5 g of salt water
added plastics, waited overnight to see results
Mass after: 44.89 g
amount of oil not absorbed: 1 mL

Mass after: 23.83 g
amount of oil not absorbed: 4 mL
Salt water with HCl treated plastics
Cut up 1 g of both plastics
soaked in HCl overnight
Rinsed plastics out in water
Placed in olive oil/salt water
pH of salt water:

mass after
: 29.94 g
amount oil not absorbed
: 2 mL

mass after:
5.47 g
amount oil not absorbed:
2 mL
Final Conclusion:
Although the pH was still acidic, the beaker with LDPE had the highest pH of all other HCl experiments we did, indicating the salt water was more resistant to pH changes.
Heating plastics in water for 1 min then placing in gasoline
*The most accurate results came when we tried to reduce the amount of evaporation
Mass after: 18.4 g
Nearly all of the oil was absorbed except for a very light sheen at the surface

Heat water until it begins to boil (100 degrees C)
Place 1 g of HDPE and LDPE in water for 1 minute, then remove
Place in 25 mL gasoline
Leave overnight
mass after: 12.76 g
amount not absorbed: 1.3 mL gas

mass after: 10.47 g
amount not absorbed: 5.8 mL
Treating plastics with HCl
Final Conclusion: The absorbance of the gasoline increase slightly
Mass after: 5.8 g
amount not absorbed: 14 mL

mass after: 19.9 g
amount not absorbed: 10 mL
* The pH could not be measured as the gasoline was too volatile to be removed from the fume hood and would have had to be brought into the classrooms in order to measure the pH.
The mass increased but it did not absorb as much oil as the control trial
Due to the thin structure of the HDPE and LDPE, oil was possibly able to climb up into pores or small openings between the monomer strands in the plastic through means of capillary action and therefore become absorbed. Since the other plastics tested in the beginning were too thick the pores/small openings between strands were probably too small for oil to pass into.
Treating the plastic with oil as well as heating it changed the surface or possibly the structure, thus accounting for the changes in the amounts of oil the plastic was able to absorb.
Treating the plastic with acid, caused the plastic to absorb the acid, and when the plastics were placed in oil, there was a possible reaction between the HCl and oil/gas causing almost all of it to be gone from the beaker.
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