Author(s): Lim TT, Huang X
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Abstract Oil sorption capacity and hydrophobic-oleophilic characteristics of an agricultural product, kapok (Ceiba pentandra), was thoroughly examined. The kapok fiber has a hollow structure with large lumen. Its performance was compared with that of a polypropylene (PP), a widely used commercial oil sorbent for oil spill cleanup. The oils investigated were diesel, hydraulic oil (AWS46), and engine oil (HD40). Reusability of the kapok after application to various oils was also evaluated. Both loose (at its natural state) and densely packed kapok assemblies were examined. Sorption capacities of the packed kapok assemblies were very much dependent on their packing densities. At 0.02gcm(-3), its oil sorption capacities were 36, 43 and 45gg(-1) for diesel, ASW46 and HD40, respectively. The values decreased to 7.9, 8.1 and 8.6gg(-1) at 0.09gcm(-3). Its sorption capacities for the three oils were significantly higher than those of PP. When the oil-saturated kapok assemblies were allowed to drain, they exhibited high oil retention ability, with less than 8\% of the absorbed diesel and HD40, and 12\% of the absorbed AWS46 lost even after 1h of dripping. When applied on oil-over-water baths, the kapok exhibited high selectivity for the oils over the water; almost all oils spilled could be removed with the kapok, leaving an invisible oil slick on water. After the 4th cycle of reuse, the reused kapok assembly only lost 30\% of its virgin sorption capacity if packed at 0.02gcm(-3), and the loss in sorption capacity was much less at higher packing densities. The hydrophobic-oleophilic characteristics of the kapok fiber could be attributed to its waxy surface, while its large lumen contributed to its excellent oil absorbency and retention capacity.
This article was published in Chemosphere
and referenced in Journal of Chemical Engineering & Process Technology