The NET effect of dispersants - a critical review of testing and modelling of surface oil dispersion

Marieke Zeinstra-Helfrich*, Wierd Koops, A.J. Murk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Application of chemical dispersants or mechanical dispersion on surface oil is a trade-off between surface effects (impact of floating oil) and sub-surface effects (impact of suspended oil). Making an informed decision regarding such response, requires insight in the induced change in fate and transport of the oil.We aim to identify how natural, chemical and mechanical dispersion could be quantified in oil spill models. For each step in the dispersion process, we review available experimental data in order to identify overall trends and propose an algorithm or calculation method. Additionally, the conditions for successful mechanical and chemical dispersion are defined.Two commonly identified key parameters in surface oil dispersion are: oil properties (viscosity and presence of dispersants) and mixing energy (often wind speed). Strikingly, these parameters play a different role in several of the dispersion sub-processes. This may explain difficulties in simply relating overall dispersion effectiveness to the individual parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Chemical dispersion
  • Natural dispersion
  • Oil properties
  • Oil spill modelling
  • Response decision

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The NET effect of dispersants - a critical review of testing and modelling of surface oil dispersion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this