Navigation Links
A less toxic, more efficient dispersant is scientist's goal
Date:9/21/2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After the failure of the Deepwater Horizon oil well last spring, nearly 2 million gallons of dispersant were released into the Gulf of Mexico to contain the spill. While preliminary reports suggest that it successfully dispersed much of the oil, the long-term effect of such a massive volume of dispersant on ecosystems, wildlife and humans remains to be seen.

That's why a University at Buffalo researcher with expertise in how the main ingredients of dispersants -- polymers and surfactants -- interact in solutions and at surfaces is working toward designing more environmentally friendly oil dispersants, including those based on natural, mineral-based ingredients.

Marina Tsianou, PhD, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is conducting the research under a recently awarded RAPID Response Research Grant from the National Science Foundation.

On Sept. 22, she will meet with scientists doing similar work at an NSF-sponsored "Workshop on the Science and Technology of Dispersants Relevant to Deep Sea Floor Oil Releases" in Arlington, Va.

"The purpose of our grant is to create novel dispersants through the utilization of polymers, surfactants and solvents that would be less harsh to the environment," says Tsianou.

Her goal is to develop new dispersants through a better understanding of how they interact with crude oil and naturally occurring particles at the nanoscale level.

"There is very little published research on the fundamental interactions between crude oil and dispersant," says Tsianou.

Tsianou notes that the scientific community was aware of the need for additional research on dispersants as far back as 2005 when the National Academy of Sciences reported that research on dispersants, especially on the molecular level, was very limited and on the decline.

"That is where our research fits in," she says.

Tsianou and her colleagues at UB will be relying on their expertise on using macromolecules, nanoparticles and inorganic molecules as building blocks for high-end, multifunctional materials and products that ultimately improve the quality of life.

"When we study these surface interactions, we can learn how to control hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity -- their affinity, or lack of affinity, for crude oil -- as well as develop novel mechanisms to optimize their properties," she says.

Tsianou will explore the suitability of alternative solvents and surfactants, such as those found in processed foods, for some dispersant formulations, as well as mineral particles that could serve as environmentally friendly surface active agents.

"We also will take into consideration the different compositions that oil has, depending on its origin and the time elapsed since its release," she says. "Oil that comes from Alaska has a different composition than oil drilled from the Gulf of Mexico or the Middle East."

She and her UB colleagues will look at how mechanical disturbances, such as those caused by hurricanes and storms, affect the way that dispersant interacts with oil.

They also will study how local environmental conditions, such as those on the Great Lakes where, she points out, smaller-scale spills also occur, might influence how dispersants function and the long-term impact they might have on local wildlife and shorelines.

"If we make a more efficient dispersant, then we can use far less of it," she says. "Millions of gallons of anything, even a very benign material, is a lot to release into the environment."


'/>"/>

Contact: Ellen Goldbaum
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
716-645-4605
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientist IDs genes that promise to make biofuel production more efficient, economical
2. The jellyfish-like salp: Most efficient filter-feeder in the deep, scientists discover
3. Selenium makes more efficient solar cells
4. Molecules typically found in blue jean and ink dyes may lead to more efficient solar cells
5. Novel strategy for generating induced pluripotent stem cells for clinical use is safe and efficient
6. Human use heel first gait because it is efficient for walking
7. Method makes refineries more efficient
8. Switchgrass produces biomass efficiently
9. KINAXO launches KinAffinity services for efficient profiling of kinase inhibitors in cells or tissue
10. Carbon nanotubes could make efficient solar cells
11. Making more efficient fuel cells
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... WAKEFIELD, Massachusetts , March 23, 2016 ... kombiniert im Interesse erhöhter Sicherheit Gesichts- und ... Xura, Inc. (NASDAQ: MESG ... heute bekannt, dass das Unternehmen mit SpeechPro ... insbesondere aus der Finanzdienstleistungsbranche, wird die Möglichkeit ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... OTTAWA, Ontario , PROVO ... 2016 Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), which operates ... for molecular testing, and Tute Genomics and ... process management technology respectively, today announced the launch of ... new next-generation sequencing (NGS) testing panel. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the ... commonly-identified miRNAs in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject ... it now. , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 A person commits ... the crime scene to track the criminal down. ... U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has ... to support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... FRANCISCO , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome ... has secured $1 million in debt financing from Silicon ... ramp up automation and to advance its drug development ... its new facility. "SVB has been an ... beyond the services a traditional bank would provide," said ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated ... the medical community, has closed its Series A funding ... . "We have received a commitment from ... we need to meet our current goals," stated ... the runway to complete validation on the current projects ...
Breaking Biology Technology: