In Situ Burning of Oil in Ice – Development of Aerial Ignition Systems for In Situ Burn Operations

Research Report

REPORT: HISTORICAL REVIEW AND STATE OF THE ART FOR OIL SLICK IGNITION FOR ISB

This review summarizes the technologies available for initiating in-situ burning. The focus of the report has been on oil spill igniters reported in the available open literature, which encompasses North American and European research and development efforts. Much of the technology was conceived as a result of in-situ burning attempts at specific spill incidents. For example, the Torrey Canyon incident in 1967 prompted considerable research on both sides of the Atlantic on the subject of oil slick ignition.

Over the intervening 50-year period a greater understanding has developed of the processes involved in the ignition, steady burning, vigorous burning, and extinction phases of in-situ combustion, and this has led to a refinement of existing ignition equipment and new tools and techniques. The recent Deepwater Horizon (Macondo) response has already generated a new round of technological refinements and operational guidelines for open-water burning of oil.

The purpose of this review is to provide technical guidance for the development of an oil-slick ignition system to be combined with a recently developed herding agent application system for helicopters. The system is to be designed so that a single helicopter can first contract and later ignite and burn oil slicks without the need for booms or surface vessels. The concept of contracting slicks in open water and in drift ice conditions with herding agents and then igniting them offers the possibility of a rapid aerial response to spills.