Mechanical recovery of oil spills at sea is a logistically and operationally challenging undertaking. Nuka Research has been working for years to support industry and government in enhancing mechanical response capacity. One constant that we have seen both in field operations and through various modeling tools is the challenge of storage during major offshore recovery operations. Most high-volume skimming systems recover water – both emulsified and free – along with water. This requires significant storage in order to keep pace with skimming operations.
In 2017-2018, Nuka Research conducted a research project to assist the U.S. federal government in identifying existing, new and emerging technologies that would enhance the ability to separate oil and water during on-water recovery operations. We conducted an extensive review of the academic and technical literature, and also spoke with researchers, equipment manufacturers, and spill response professionals to identify promising technologies for separating or demulsifying oil/water mixtures during the response process. The resulting report will be used to explore opportunities to improve the efficiency of offshore mechanical recovery systems, and to inform future research and development projects.