Accidental release of oil to the sea poses may have dire ecological consequences and serious economic ramifications, as recent events have shown. Spill control equipment as: booms, skimmers and oil trawls may protect sensitive areas and remove floating oil. This is subject to continuous technological development and innovation.
To support such development there is a pressing need to test new equipment under realistic conditions; in other words by release of oil to find out if can be successfully removed. Intentional release of crude oil to the sea will usually be taboo. If the crude is replaced by edible oil, reasons for restrictions are far less.
Subjected to wavy sea, most crudes will develop stable non-Newtonian emulsions of considerable stiffness. Using soybean oil and an emulsifier, stable bio-emulsion with similar density and rheological properties were developed. Microscopic image analyzes showed that the emulsions consisted of water droplets in the typical range 5-20 microns, surrounded by a thin oil film. The droplet approximately followed the lognormal distribution. The water content could be up to 70%, yet the emulsions were oil-continuous and very stable.
Obviously, the potential benefits of using such emulsions for equipment development and verification are high and the environmental impact probably small and possibly beneficial. So permission for limited tests at sea in August has been given by Norwegian authorities and was performed in north of the Vesterålen islands in September 2014.