This paper reviews the development during the past two years of self-mixing chemical dispersants to minimize damage from oil spills.
Some history regarding the acceptance (or lack thereof) of previous conventional dispersants requiring mixing energy is covered so that the progress manifested by the current self-mix dispersant approach can be readily appreciated.
The utility of the self-mix dispersant system is based upon both the elimination of the laborious mixing requirement and the formation of submicron diameter size oil droplets. The role of droplet size in the behavior and movement of dispersed oil as well as the effect of droplet size on the toxicological and ecological impact of the dispersed oil, are significant aspects that are discussed.
The planned research to determine the fate of dispersed oil under actual field conditions is outlined. This will permit a more accurate and objective assessment of the impact of dispersed oil on the marine environment than is now available from the extrapolation of laboratory bioassays. For example, the rapid dilution-dispersion of the oil into a large body of water is an important characteristic and advantage of the chemical dispersion process and is very much influenced by droplet size. However, in laboratory tests the concentration of the oil is maintained at a constant level during the test exposure, and little attention is directed toward the determination or control of the dispersed oil droplet size.