Analytical Instrumentation

  • Can Dog Fur Help with Oil Spills?

Can Dog Fur Help with Oil Spills?

Aug 14 2020 Read 279 Times

Dog fur may have an annoying tendency to stock to clothes, furniture and carpets but according to new research from the University of Technology Sydney it could step up as an effective material for oil spill clean-up efforts. The study explored the potential of sustainable materials to soak up land-based crude oil spills, with felted mats made from recycled dog fur exhibiting excellent absorption properties. The study is one of the first to compare the absorbency properties of natural-origin materials, with the team saying dog hair performs just as well as synthetic fabrics when used on solid surfaces such as highway roads, sealed concrete floors and pavement.

Sustainable-origin sorbents step up

While water spills tend to get more coverage, land-based oil spills can be just as dangerous and pose a major threat to local communities and ecosystems. To stop crude from contaminating soil and groundwater it’s critical to act fast when it comes to cleanup efforts. While efficient, current synthetic materials such as polypropylene are expensive and non-recyclable. To find an alternative, researchers at the University of Technology Sydney tested the potential of organic materials such as dog fur. Recycled human hair sourced from salons and peat moss were also tested.

“Dog fur in particular was surprisingly good at oil spill clean-up, and felted mats from human hair and fur were very easy to apply and remove from the spills,” says Dr Megan Murray, lead author of the study and Environmental Scientist at the University of Technology Sydney. “This is a very exciting finding for land managers who respond to spilled oil from trucks, storage tanks, or leaking oil pipelines. All of these land scenarios can be treated effectively with sustainable-origin sorbents.”

Dog hair outperforms peat moss

The findings were published in the journal Environments, with the team asserting felted dog hair mats perform significantly better than peat moss. “We found that loose peat moss is not as effective at cleaning up oil spills on land compared to dog fur and hair products, and it is not useful at all for sandy environments," says Dr Murray. “Based on this research, we recommend peat moss is no longer used for this purpose. Given that peat moss is a limited resource and harvesting it requires degrading wetland ecosystems, we think this is a very important finding.”

For more up-to-the-minute oil and gas industry news don’t miss ‘ASTM’s Long-Awaited Fuels and Lubricants Handbook 2nd Edition Now Available’ with insight from David Phillips on behalf of Petro Industry News.

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