Oil Spill Research to Measure Dispersant Effectiveness

Suzanne Chang (Photo: BSEE)

Posted by Eric Haun

Highlighting research projects funded by the Bureau of Safety and
Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), engineer Suzanne Chang
discussed 13 recently completed and ongoing studies Tuesday at
the Seventh Technology Workshop for Oil Spill Response.

Chang described one study that seeks to, "develop a novel
ultrasonic scatter method to measure the droplet size of
dispersed oil to monitor the efficacy of dispersant application."
Chang explained that, "acoustic signals respond to changes in oil
droplet sizes."

The ultimate goal of the research is to develop a way to measure
the effectiveness of subsea dispersant applications. Chang
cautioned that there are many variables that have to be
considered when properly calibrating such techniques, including
whether or not the crude oil being measured is in the presence of
varying amounts of natural gas.

"Subsea dispersants were used operationally for the first time
during the response to the Macondo well blowout. The response
community was very interested in improving ways to determine the
effectiveness of such approaches. When the concept of using
acoustics to measure effectiveness came to BSEE's attention, it
was something we determined was worth investigating," Chang said.
She added that preliminary results suggest there are reasons to
be cautiously optimistic about the detection methodology.

The focus of BSEE-sponsored research is to encourage new and
innovative ways to improve oil spill response capabilities from
proof of concept through successive stages of technology
development, maturity, and readiness for deployment during actual
oil spills.

Mar 2, 2017

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