Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar
Oil-Water Separations Research and Application to Oil Spill Cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico
Eric Hoek, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles
Highly stabilized oil-water emulsions are difficult to separate because a complex combination of water chemistry, oil density, and emulsion viscosity govern behavior of such colloidal systems. Over the years, we have explored an array of oil-water emulsion breaking chemistries and separation processes including: dissolved/induced gas flotation, chemical and electro-coagulation, centrifugal separation, and polymeric membrane filtration. These fundamental studies have given rise to new paradigms for oil-water separation that were employed in the cleanup of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of 2010, and which are also being applied to produced water treatment the largest waste stream globally resulting from conventional and enhanced oil & gas production. In this talk, I will give a background about how my laboratory got started in oil-water separations, how we got involved with the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico, and what we are doing now, looking towards the future, to develop solutions for some of the most extreme water treatment problems facing the energy industry in the 21st century. The ultimate implications of our fundamental and applied research involve energy, security, water and environmental sustainability.