New Oil Spill Dispersant Made from Ingredients in Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Ice Cream

Picture: Evan-Amos (PD)

Not to say they’re natural ingredients.  Via ScienceDaily:

With concerns about the possible health and environmental effects of oil dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon disaster still fresh in mind, scientists now described a new dispersant made from edible ingredients that both breaks up oil slicks and keeps oil from sticking to the feathers of birds.

“Each of the ingredients in our dispersant is used in common food products like peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream,” said Lisa K. Kemp, Ph.D. She reported on the dispersant at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, being held in Philadelphia the week of August 19.

“Other scientists are working on new oil dispersants and absorbents, but nothing that’s quite like ours. It not only breaks up oil but prevents the deposition of oil on birds and other objects, like the ingredients in laundry detergent keep grease from redepositing on clothing in the rinse cycle. Birds can sit in slicks of the dispersed oil, they can dive through it and take off and flap their wings, and the oil will fall off.”

Kemp’s colleague, Robert Lochhead, Ph.D., developed the concept for the new dispersant, and the research team now has moved the material from concept to a prototype dispersant suitable for testing on actual oil spills. The team, which also includes Drs. Sarah Morgan, Dan Savin and Les Goff, is at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Lochhead said the new dispersant is based on scientific principles established decades ago during the development of modern laundry detergents. One ingredient, for instance, is a special polymer that sticks to the surface of oil droplets to keep them from sticking to the feathers of sea birds. Similar polymers in laundry detergents keep oil and grease removed during the wash cycle from getting back on clothing during the rinse cycle.

That feature in the new dispersant would be critical for minimizing damage to wildlife and beaches, Kemp noted. When detergents are used to remove oil that has coated fur or feathers, it defeats their natural waterproofing effect, leaving birds less buoyant and more susceptible to hypothermia. Birds can also eat the oil as they try to clean themselves, causing internal damage. By some estimates, almost 225,000 birds died in this way after being covered in oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska.

Another important advantage, Kemp noted, is the ease of quickly obtaining large amounts of ingredients, even ton quantities, for making the dispersant at reasonable cost. She envisioned agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard keeping small amounts on hand for first response, with larger quantities being quickly made as necessary.

Read more here.

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  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    > Each of the ingredients in our dispersant is used in common food products like peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream

    wonder what those ingredients are
    kewl they way they sold it
    that one little word IN makes all the difference
    for a minute there I thought they might be using something natural
    like peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream
    and thought Santa was gonna fix the oil slicks

    nice, I give it a 10 on the Psyop Scale

  • CosmicAmazing

    Well at least the title was worded the way it was and not like; “Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Ice Cream Made from Ingredients in New Oil Spill Dispersant”. Because then people might actually question what their eating. 

    • Matt Staggs

      New! In your freezer aisle! “Ben and Jerry’s Chocobutterlicious Oil Spill Dispersant”

    • Matt Staggs

      New! In your freezer aisle! “Ben and Jerry’s Chocobutterlicious Oil Spill Dispersant”

      • CosmicAmazing

        Limited time only, buy one get one. All proceeds go to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund. 

  • Bender

    How about we just stop spilling oil all over the damn planet?

  • Lueei

    Of course, Scientists either do not remember, or purposefully ignore…Both of which are just as unforgiveable… That Chocolate for exemple, is TOXIC to most animal species when ingested.

    Good Job.