The role of dispersants' dynamic interfacial tension in effective crude oil spill dispersion

David A. Riehm, Alon V. McCormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The dispersion effectiveness of dispersants containing Tween 80, Span 80, and dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS) was characterized using a modified Swirling Flask test, and was correlated with both initial and dynamic interfacial tension produced by those dispersants at an oil-water interface. Compositional trends in effectiveness were shown to be governed by: (1) initial oil-water interfacial tension observed upon dispersant-oil-saltwater contact; (2) rate of increase (or decrease) from the initial interfacial tension as DOSS was rapidly lost to the aqueous phase; and (3) gradually slowing kinetics of dispersant adsorption to the oil-water interface as Span 80 concentration was increased, which ultimately diminished dispersion effectiveness considerably even as dynamic interfacial tension remained <10-3mN/m. It is proposed that this third phenomenon results not only from the hydrophobicity of Span 80, but also from the dependence of mixed Tween-Span-DOSS reverse micelles' stability in crude oil on dispersant composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-163
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to Profs. Joe Zasadzinski, David Morse, and Lynn Walker for helpful discussion. This work was supported by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) through the Consortium for the Molecular Engineering of Dispersants (C-MEDS).


  • Corexit
  • Crude oil
  • DOSS
  • Dispersant
  • Oil spill
  • Surfactants


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of dispersants' dynamic interfacial tension in effective crude oil spill dispersion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this