Yiqi Cao received as the winner of the 2022 Research Communication Award.
Application Title: Application of chemical dispersants for tackling marine oil spills
Photo taken from a high-speed camera shows chemically dispersed oil in the seawater. Marine oil spills can cause catastrophic impacts on ecosystems and human health. The application of chemical dispersants is a well-recognized response option to tackle marine oil spills. Dispersant application can rapidly increase oil dilution in the first few hours with the assistance of wave energy, meanwhile affecting the migration and mitigation of spilled oils. The weathering of spilled oils, including evaporation, dilution, photooxidation, and biodegradation, will eventually be altered. How dispersant application will affect oil weathering and how to simulate the oil spill in the vast marine environment in a lab-scale experiment are still controversial.
The research focused on using microcosms that are typically applied for testing and developing in-situ theories to explore the effects of chemical dispersant application on the weathering of spilled oils over time. The results highlighted that dispersant application could only cause short-term adverse effects on the weathering of spilled crude oils whereas exerting insignificant effects after a long term. The study would provide constructive insights on applying chemical dispersants for responding to marine oil spills.