Abanaki’s Fuzzy2 material is being put to work off the coast of Louisiana on a disk skimmer cleaning up oil from the Gulf oil spill. The new Fuzzy2 material has triple the oil-removal capacity of standard disk skimming material, and this is the first time it has been used on such a large-scale project.
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, the Fuzzy2 material is attached to the surface of 56 30-inch-diameter skimming disks on a floating skimmer made by Crucial Inc. of Gretna, Louisiana. Outfitted with Fuzzy2, the Crucial ORD disc skimmer can remove as much as 385 gallons of oil per minute from the water’s surface, more than three times its usual capacity.
Unlike other skim disk materials, Fuzzy2 has a hairy surface that greatly increases its surface area. 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 wastewater pits and groundwater monitoring wells. However, this skimming material also increases pick-up rates of less viscous oil such as the crude oil now threatening the Louisiana coastline.
The disk skimmer is under contract to a spill responder and is operated from one of the scores of ships now 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.