Abanaki Corporation said that its patent-pending Fuzzy2™ material is proving highly effective at removing floating oil from the waters off the coast of Louisiana as part of the Gulf oil spill clean-up. The new material is being used on a disk oil skimmer and has triple the oil removal capacity of standard disk skimmer material.
According to Abanaki president Tom Hobson, oil skimmers using the Fuzzy2 material are ideal for the core clean-up task in the Gulf, removing floating oil from water. Oil has been appearing that has tar-like qualities that make it more difficult to pick up in high quantities.
When oil is thick and sticky, he said, it tends to cause plugging problems with pumps and with skimmers. "Some oil skimmers are specifically designed to pick up that kind of oil, but the typical high volume oil skimmer at the spill site is not."
Unlike other oil skimmer disk materials, Fuzzy2 has a hairy surface that greatly increases its surface area, making it highly efficient at removing oil from the water's surface. It is a more durable version of Abanaki's original Fuzzy Belt® material, which is used with belt oil skimmers to capture diesel, gasoline and other light oils in waste water pits and groundwater monitoring wells. However, the Fuzzy2 skimming material also dramatically increases pick up rates of less viscous oil like the crude oil threatening the Louisiana coastline.
A disk skimmer uses a rotating disk to remove oil from water. Oleophilic (oil attracting) material collects oil as the disk passes through the water, and wiper blades scrape off the oil for collection. In this application, Abanaki's Fuzzy2 material is attached to the surface of 56 30-inch diameter skimming disks on a floating skimmer. Outfitted with Fuzzy2, the Disc Skimmer can remove up to 385 gallons of oil per minute from the water's surface, more than three times its usual capacity.
The disk skimmer is under contract to a spill responder and is operated from one of the scores of ships deployed to skim oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The leak is estimated to gush 5,000 barrels of oil each day following the explosion and sinking of an oil rig that killed 11 workers April 21, 2010.