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Oil Spill Products | Oil and Chemical absorbents

May. 06, 2024

Oil Spill Products | Oil and Chemical absorbents

Absorbents or Sorbents are a variety of materials used to soak up and remove oils and chemicals.  Three types of absorbent exist;

You can find more information on our web, so please take a look.

Organic absorbents

Organic absorbents are generally considered to be the kindest to the earth and are manufactured from sustainable sources such as cellulose, sawdust, wood, straw, coir etc.

Some organic absorbents can be by-products from industry such as saw dust.  Whilst these absorbents have good absorption properties, they are usually in loose lightweight form which tends to be a problem outdoors due to the effects of wind.  Organic absorbents unless treated will also absorb water.  One of the best organic absorbents available is ISOL8 pictured below which is manufactured from coir.


Synthetic absorbents

Synthetic absorbents are man made materials such as polypropylene, polyethylene etc.

Synthetic absorbents, in particular polypropylene make up the bulk of the popular absorbents widely used throughout industry today and can be manufactured in a variety of forms, which include Absorbent Pads (Sheets), Rolls, Cushions (Pillows), Socks and Booms.  Other specialised forms include Oil Absorbent Sweeps and Absorbent Drum Toppers.

Synthetic absorbents can easily be treated making them oleophillic (oil attracting) as well as hydrophobic (water repellant).  These oil absorbents are therefore ideal for removing oil from the surface of water especially in the form of oil absorbent booms.

These types of absorbents are considered the strongest and can be used multiple times.  These types of absorbents can also be treated to be used on hazardous chemicals such as acids.  The main disadvantage is they are not biodegradable. 

Inorganic absorbents

Inorganic absorbents are materials from non-sustainable sources which include clay, sand, peat etc.  Inorganic absorbents such as clay granules have very low absorption rates compared to their organic and synthetic counterparts, other disadvantages can include a danger to users (Potters Rot) caused by dust inhalation.

Absorbents are usually then classified into three distinct types

Oil, Chemical and Maintenance.

Oil Absorbents

Oil only absorbents include pads, booms, cushions, rolls and socks. The oil only absorbents are hydrophobic which means they will not absorb water or water based fluids.  Oil only absorbents can be used to remove oil from the waters surface and will float indefinitely on water to full saturation. Manufactured from strong polypropylene fibre which resists tearing and disintegration.

Colour Coded white

Click here to see our full range of oil absorbents

Maintenance Absorbents

Maintenance absorbents include land booms, cushions, pads, rolls and socks.  Maintenance absorbents can be highly absorbent and are manufactured from high tensile strength polypropylene fibres.  Maintenance absorbents are suitable for use with water, oil, coolants, cutting fluids, non-aggressive chemicals and solvents.

Colour coded Grey
Click here to see our full range of maintenance absorbents.

Jiatong Product Page

Chemical Absorbents

Chemical absorbents include land booms, pads, rolls and socks.  chemical absorbents are manufactured from strong polypropylene material which will not break down when used with hazardous liquids.  Bright yellow in colour, they are easily recognised in case of emergency.  Also known as universal absorbents for being able to absorb virtually any type of spill which is useful in the event of an unidentified spillage.

Colour coded yellow
Click here to view our complete range of chemical absorbents

Oil Spill Cleanup - Gelfand Center - Carnegie Mellon ...

Oil Spill Cleanup

This demonstration serves to heighten awareness of environmental issues facing our society today, while at the same time exploring the unique properties of polymers. Polymers are very useful in environmental applications. One example is an experimental product called Enviro-Bond® polymer, which demonstrates how polymers are used to control and cleanup oil spills on our oceans. Other types of oil spill cleanup methods include collecting oil using pumps, burning it, using detergents to break up the oil and the use of polypropylene (another synthetic polymer!) booms to contain and absorb the oil from the ocean surface.

The following experiment demonstrates how the Enviro-Bond® 403 polymer works to clean up oil spills spread over a water surface. This polymer is a hydrocarbon polymer (oil-based) that contains a porous internal structure. The major components of oil are attracted to this polymer because their nature is quite similar. The polymer attracts and absorbs the oil within its pores, encapsulating it and preventing its release. Once the particles are "full" of oil, they adhere to one another and form a semi-solid mass that can be handled and disposed easier.

Enviro-Bond is ideally suited for water cleanup because it is hydrophobic (does not like water!), and its density is lower than the density of water, therefore the polymer particles float at the oil-water interface.

The experiment below illustrates the phenomenon described above. Be aware that while Enviro-Bond® 403 is a non-toxic material, it is however irritating to the eye. Always wear chemical splash goggles when using this material. The oil is also mildly irritating to the eyes and it is combustible. The gelled material should be recycled at an automotive service center. Keep it away from heat and open flame.

Supplies needed:

  • Enviro-Bond® 403 powder (available from Flinn Scientific Inc.)
  • Clear plastic cup
  • Plastic spoon and fork
  • Water
  • Marvel Mystery Oil® (available from Flinn Scientific Inc.) or kerosene
  • Paper plate


1. Fill half the plastic cup with tap water.

2. Pour a thin layer of oil in the plastic cup. Notice the oil and water separate, with the oil floating on top of the water.

3. Using the plastic spoon, sprinkle enough Enviro-Bond® 403 on the "oil spill" in the cup. Watch the polymer particles absorb all the oil.

4. When all the oil has been absorbed (3-5 minutes), lift the polymer-oil cake from the surface of the water using the fork and place on the paper plate.

5. How does the water in the cup look? Is it clean? Was all of the oil removed?

6. You have successfully cleaned up your oil "spill"!

Even though this polymer absorbs oil, it is not considered a super-absorbing material. Super-absorbers must be capable of absorbing 25 times their weight in liquid in order to be classified as a super-absorber. Since Enviro-Bond® 403 does not meet this requirement, it is considered a "hydrocarbon stabilizer" instead. The absorbing power of this polymer can still be determined by weighing the polymer before and after it absorbs the oil. Use the equation given below.

If you are looking for more details, kindly visit oil absorbent felt.


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