Novel Skimmer Surface

Demonstrating a new skimmer design in the ice environment

September 6, 2022


By changing adding grooves to a drum skimmer, it is possible to recover twice as much oil and increase the number of types of oil that can be recovered. However, how the skimmer would perform in the presence of slush and brash ice was not understood.


A grooved-drum skimmer was placed into a tank with either crude oil or a refined product (e. g. , diesel) and ice was mixed into the oil. Three crude oils and two petroleum products were tested. Oil characteristics, such as viscosity, were measured as a function of ice content. Skimmers made with five materials were then tested to determine their recovery rates as a function of ice content.


The presence of ice had different effects on the properties of the oil. In some cases, the oil would rise above the ice, in others they readily mixed together. The presence of ice reduced the efficiency of the skimmer in all cases, either due to ice being recovered or ice fouling the grooves. The more viscous oils tended to entrain the ice, and the mixture would be collected. There was no buildup of ice behind the skimmers during testing. The grooved skimmer continued to outperform the traditional flat drum skimmers in the presence of slush and brash ice. The grooved-drum skimmer has become commercially available.