The Rational Development of Improved Methods for the Removal of Oil Contamination from Wildlife and Rocky Foreshore Utilizing Magnetic Particle Technology

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Munaweera, Kasup (2015) The Rational Development of Improved Methods for the Removal of Oil Contamination from Wildlife and Rocky Foreshore Utilizing Magnetic Particle Technology. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Oil contamination of ecosystems and wildlife presents a formidable challenge to environmental remediators, including wildlife rescuers and rehabilitators. Quite apart from the diversity of polluting events, existing clean-up methods and technologies have remained essentially unchanged over the years. For example, the method of choice for the treatment of oiled wildlife is still based on the transportation of affected animals to treatment facilities and the use of surfactants and copius amounts of warm water to remove the contamination. Although such techniques have themselves been developed to a high degree over the years, with a number of notable success stories, such operations are often very labour intensive and, not being portable, cannot be applied to the animals upon first encounter, either at remote locations or in holding bays. This means that victims are often left for long periods of time in contact with toxic and/or corrosive chemicals. In spite of such requirements for improvements in wildlife rehabilitation methods and technologies, there is a paucity of scientific and engineering research into alternatives. This thesis is part of a program that exploits the use of oil ad(b)sorbing magnetic particle technology (MPT) in order to research the best methods and equipment to remove oil from a number of relevant substrates - including feathers, fur and rock surfaces. In this regard, the refinement of portable MPT equipment for the provision of a ‘quick clean’ to contaminated wildlife in the field has been pursued. This includes the development and testing of an optimal magnetic harvesting device, an investigation of the particle characteristics that promote a high initial removal of contaminant and the development, in collaboration with industrial design advisors, of the ‘backpack concept’ for a portable kit. Thus the final iteration of the magnetic harvesting device “the wand” is considered to be perfected and prototype equipment is ready for implementation in the event of an incident. The most appropriate particle size distribution and grade for the most efficient “quick removal” of the most volatile constituents has been established.

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Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0502 Environmental Science and Management
Historical > FOR Classification > 0904 Chemical Engineering
Current > Division/Research > College of Science and Engineering
Keywords MPT, pre-treatment agents, PTAs, utilising, oil spills, oil contamination, environmental remediation, wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, environmental protection
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