Pulverized rubber (PR) can be utilized for capturing floating oils to prevent spreading and volatilization of hydrocarbons. Experiments were conducted using PR with four different particle sizes (ranging from 0.075 to 0.600mm) and South Louisiana crude oil. The oil capture performance of the PR particles was compared with that of powdered activated carbon (AC). Oil-particle interactions were analyzed using capillary theories for lateral aggregation and wicking processes, as well as sorption capacity in relation to particle size. The sorption capacity (as oil to sorbent ratio) for PR with particle size 0.115mm (4.41g/g) was comparable to that of AC with particle size 0.187mm (5.00g/g). Sorption efficiency (oil:powder ratio, g/g) of the PR increased with decreasing particle size. Sorption of oil by PR occurred rapidly (in less than 10min) which indicated strong capillary action. No additional sorption occurred after 30min. For the PR sample with larger particle size (0.600-0.400mm), lateral aggregation was clearly noticeable. The PR-oil aggregates could be easily removed from the water surface without breaking. The cost, availability and recycling potential of PR make it a feasible alternative material for oil spill response and industrial applications which require removal of floating oils.
Keywords: Activated carbon; Floating oil; Oil spills; Pulverized rubber; Waste tires.
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