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Web Exclusive | May 2018

Sustainable oil absorbent gets recognition

Biodegradable oil absorbent mats in India have received recognition by the Indian Coast Guard. Chennai-based WellGro Tech has recently developed highly biodegradable oil absorbent pads and mats for oil spill remediation. This development is timely as more attention is being focused on plastics cluttering marine environments. Hence sustainable alternatives to synthetic sorbents are needed for oil spill response in high seas and waterways.

WellGro Tech’s sorbent showed that in 120 days, it degrades, according to soil burial test undertaken by an accredited laboratory in South India. WellGro Tech has recently been recognized as a qualified supplier of pollution control equipment and spares by the Indian Coast Guard. Indian Coast Guard under the Ministry of Defense, India is the central coordinating agency for oil spill response.

The oil absorbent was evaluated earlier in a paddy field in the Cauvery river delta region in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which has rich oil resource. Oil spills in the paddy fields of the Cauvery delta region due to oil transport pipeline breakages has been a frequent occurrence and hence stakeholders are looking for effective oil spill remediation techniques.

R NambiSrinivasan of WellGro Tech while commenting about the Indian Coast Guard’s recognition said, “this is not just about oil sorbent alone but we are meeting the compliance process and parameters as set by the Coast Guard.” Realising the growing importance of sustainable oil sorbents, this scribe at Lubbock-based Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University has been focusing on biodegradable oil spill products since 2010.

While biodegradable products have many advantages, cost is a challenge when compared with cheap synthetics. The industry has to work hard to convince the stakeholders in gaining acceptability of sustainable green oil absorbent products. 

(By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA)

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