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Development of an Advancing Skimmer Test Protocol

Office/Division Program
Project Number
Research Performing Activity
SL Ross
Research Principal Investigator
Steve Potter
Research Contract Award Value

Many different models of advancing skimmer systems with various oil recovery principles are commercially available. Their common operating feature is movement through the water at a minimum speed of 0.4 m/s (~0.75 knots). Unfortunately, the lack of a standard protocol to evaluate the performance of these systems has hindered comparisons of performance.

The intent of the project was to develop a test protocol for advancing skimming systems that ultimately would measure three key performance metrics of the Estimated Recovery System Potential (ERSP) Calculator. The ERSP calculator uses several variables to model the performance of a skimming system including three important measurements: 1) Maximum Total Fluid Recovery Rate, 2) Throughput Efficiency, and 3) Recovery Efficiency. The ERSP User Manual provides conservative default values for these inputs. However, there are skimmer system whose performance likely exceeds these conservative default values. Validated test data that confirms actual performance values may, in the future, be accepted by BSEE.

This project began by investigating and summarizing historical skimmer testing protocols and large-scale facilities around the world where testing could potentially take place. Protocols were found that addressed various aspects of skimmer testing, and the project team used selected portions of these to guide the development of a new test standard structure. Of the facilities examined, Ohmsett is clearly well suited to perform the envisioned advancing skimming system tests as they have hosted numerous tests of this type in the past and have experience in other aspects of oil spill response.

After the initial background tasks were completed, a working group of experts in oil spill response was convened to help flesh out and develop the actual test protocol. Multiple in-person and virtual meetings were coordinated and facilitated to assess different points of view and work through technical issues in the development of the test protocol. To encourage broad acceptance and use, the protocol was submitted to the ASTM F20.12 Removal Subcommittee for consideration as a new standard. ASTM International is an organization that relies on technical experts from more than 90 industries in over 150 countries to help draft over 13,000 standards.

Once the protocol was drafted, it underwent a review through a series of test days at Ohmsett where the protocol was evaluated using one advancing skimmer. Some minor updates to the protocol were determined to be warranted, as were some operational suggestions for Ohmsett.

The outcome of this effort was a final test protocol that meets the needs of BSEE Oil Spill Preparedness Division, has consensus among working group members, can be generically applied for use at a number of facilities around the world, and was put forward to the ASTM F20 committee for consideration as an ASTM standard.

Latest progress update

The project is complete. The final report is posted below.

Associated Attachments