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Oil Absorbent Products Overview

pad absorbing oil and repelling water

Have you ever wondered why oil-only absorbent products repel water-based fluids? Well, it has everything to do with the surface tension of liquids. Water has a very high surface tension. Where air meets water, the water molecules cling together and form a very strong bond, which creates a membrane of sorts. Consider insects that walk on the water. Oil-only (hydrophobic) sorbents absorb oil off of water because oil has a low surface tension. In regards to universal sorbents being hydrophilic (having an affinity for water): Surfactant (surface-active agent) is a detergent that is added to polypropylene during the extrusion process, which lowers the surface tension of water and allows polypropylene to absorb it.

Oil-only (or oil-select) meltblown and spunbond polypropylene products are most commonly offered in the forms of absorbent pads, rolls, pillows, socks, and booms. Each configuration has a specific purpose, and some of them can be interchanged for use within the same application.

man cleaning up oil spill

Oil spill pads and rolls have a coarse fiber composition that quickly draws in hydrocarbon-based fluids off of the surface of water. Many oil spill contractors also use point-bonded coarse fiber meltblown polypropylene pads and rolls. These sorbents are also perforated (easily tear off what is needed for a specific absorption capacity).

Two- and three-layer compositions are generally used for indoor absorption applications to wipe off greasy tools and machine parts, or they can also be used to absorb leaks and drips under machines, drums, or vehicles. These absorbent composites have various surface textures, including spunbond polypropylene (smooth and abrasion-resistant) SMS pads and rolls, fine fiber meltblown polypropylene (soft, highly absorbent microfibers) FMF pads and rolls, and coarse fiber meltblown polypropylene (open fiber construction for absorbing high viscosity hydrocarbons) BM pads and rolls. Some of our products have dual textures (spunbond polypropylene / coarse fiber meltblown polypropylene) SM pads and rolls.

pillow absorbing oil underneath leaky valve

Oil absorbent pillows are offered in many sizes, but we advertise only 18 x 18” pillows, which is the industry standard. Pillows are most commonly used to absorb steady drips, as they are thick and have a very high absorption capacity. Since pillows remain in the same place for long periods of time, they get somewhat forgotten. Insert them into drip trays to prevent overflowing fluids from seeping into walkways or drains.

absorbent socks protecting a drain

Oil absorbent socks protect drains from hydrocarbon contamination, and they also wrap around drums or the bases of machinery to prevent leaking fluids from spreading out into walkways. They are also used in boat bilges or sumps to skim tramp oil off of the water. Absorbent socks are moldable and low-profile, which allows them to fit into tight spaces.

booms connected to prevent the spread of oil

Deploying oil spill absorbent booms is the first step when responding to a marine-based oil spill. The boom sections are connected together with end fasteners and dragged out on to the surface of water to absorb and contain oil spills. They are available in two diameters. 5” diameter booms are primarily used on still or slow-moving water. Our 8” diameter booms are best utilized on moving water and heavier currents. They are available in both 10’ sections and 20’ sections. After booms are deployed, and the spill is contained, pads and rolls are used to absorb the interior portion of the spill.

oil-only products family


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