Of flaming seas and chemical dispersants

Treehugger.com breaks down why the Gulf oil spill presents such a calamity of a problem:

At roughly 9.4 kilograms of CO2 per gallon of crude oil, burning the already-spilled 1.6 million gallons (estimate as of 5/2/2010) would theoretically turn it into 15,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses. This is equivalent to the estimated daily emissions from yesterday’s news: the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland.

…the combustion emissions would also include various undesirable gasses including SOX, NOX, VOCs, particulate matter, N2O and probably some mercury too.

Pablo Paster, of Treehugger, goes on to explain that igniting oil on water is as hard as it sounds.  Especially since the seas in the Gulf have been anything but calm since the oil rig sank.

As for chemical dispersant, it turns out to be just slightly less effective than lighting the ocean on fire.

These dispersants work to transform a surface-coating oil slick into individual oil droplets that will mix into the sea water to be later biodegraded by naturally occurring micro-organisms. The military is providing support with two C-130 aircraft that can cover 250 acres per flight, up to three times per day. This is a total of 1,500 acres, or 2.3 square miles, compared to the 3,850 square miles already covered in oil.

(BP is said to have already purchased 1/3rd of the world’s supply)

Of course, I wouldn’t have found this if it weren’t for the Daily Dish.


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