Controlling oil spills

Scientists in the US have developed a new model of fire boom which can be used to control fire in an oil spill. It is now a common practice to use fire booms to encircle oil spills and burn them. It is estimated that almost 95 per cent of oil can be removed from the water by burning it. The conventional fire booms, which are made up of stainless steel or burn-resistant ceramic, are heavy and expensive.

However, the new model, developed by Research Planning Inc, a company based in Carolina, usa , is made up of air-inflated bags and covered with a layer of a special hydrophilic fabric that soaks up any water that gets near it. The new boom is towed in a U-shaped configuration behind two boats. The pumps located on each boat keep the boom wet throughout its entire length. While the conventional booms last for not more than a few hours, the new model can withstand oil flames for many days ( PTI Science Service , Vol 18, No 13).

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