This figure depicts two vials in which a thin layer of crude oil was placed over simulated sea water. Different dispersants were added to each vial, and the vials were lightly shaken and photographed 30 minutes later. The left vial shows an example of bad or ineffective emulsion, where the crude oil remains as a dark brown slick on the water’s surface and the water column contains negligible oil. The right vial shows an example of good and effective emulsion, where the crude oil is dispersed into small droplets in the water column. (Photos by Jasmin Athas)

Identifying Effective, Food-Grade Dispersants for the Future

Oil spill responders currently have the option to treat oil spills with a synthetic dispersant called Corexit, however scientists continue to search for alternatives. In this search, scientists seek to develop an understanding of the specific mechanisms that drive dispersion and identify an effective combination of food-grade components.

Read more