Institution: Saint Mary’s University
Researcher: Dr. Jason Clyburne
Funded $10,000 by GreenCentre Canada
Developing fast and environmentally safe methods to remediate oil leakages and spills is of interest in a wide number of industrial settings. Often, the first step in treating these spills is to add what is known as an oil dispersant, a compound designed to break up larger oil pools into smaller sized droplets. This helps dilute the concentration of the oil and facilitate its removal and clean-up. However, current dispersants themselves are often not environmentally friendly and can be harmful to humans and aquatic life.
GreenCentre is supporting the development of a series of oil dispersants that are much less toxic and more biodegradable than traditional dispersants. Invented by Dr. Jason Clyburne of Saint Mary’s University, this technology is a new method to disperse oil using ionic liquids. These are unique compounds that are ionic in nature, but remain liquid at ambient temperatures. In initial testing, Dr. Clyburne’s biodegradable compounds show promise for their ability to disperse an industrial sample of crude oil.
Through a Proof-of-Principle grant, GreenCentre is supporting further development and testing of these dispersants. Working with industrial partners, these compounds will be tested both for their ability to clean up general oil spills and in more specialized applications such as the cleaning of cooling towers, engines, and truck components. If successful, these compounds could effectively compete with currently used methods by offering a means to disperse oil with minimal damage to the environment.
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