Effect of Dispersant, Bacteria, and Biodegradation on the Breakdown of Oil in Warm and Cold Water Environments

The purpose of this experiment was to determine the effect of dispersant, biodegradation, and bacteria on the breakup of oil in warm and cold water environments. This was performed by filling a fish tank with warm or cold water and 200 ml of oil. Then the trials were randomized so that either dispersant, biodegradation, or bacteria were applied to a simulated spill for five minutes. Following this, the remaining oil was removed to determine the amount of oil that was left after each treatment. The initial volume of oil was subtracted from the final amount of oil to obtain the total amount of oil that was separated and spread through the water. Each combination of treatment in warm or cold water was repeated five times. The data collected from these trials was analyzed using two Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) tests, to find which treatment performed best in a cold or warm water environment. It was found that in both environments, the dispersant performed the best. Next, three two-factor t-tests were performed to find in which environment each treatment had the greatest effect in, when compared to itself.

These results showed that both biodegradation and bacteria performed best in warm water and that the dispersant performed best in cold water. These results indicate that if an oil spill were to occur in a cold or warm water region, the best way to remove it would be to use a dispersant. This experiment attempts to solve a growing crisis in ocean environments. By determining the most effective way to break up oil spills is, not only will countries save millions of dollars, but also oceans ecosystem can be protected.

Research Done By:

Krystal Krygowski
Cousino High School

Emily Upton
Cousino High School