Illustration of the interaction of oil droplets and gas bubbles on the formation of oil and gas during the Deepwater Horizon incident. The presence of gas in the discharged plume reduced oil droplet size. Image provided by Michel Boufadel.

Modeling Study Characterizes Droplet and Bubble Formation in Subsea Oil Spills

Researchers developed a new formulation to simulate gas-oil interactions within a developing underwater oil plume and applied the technique to the Deepwater Horizon incident. The simulations showed that in the absence of dispersant, gas bubbles reduced the median oil droplet and bubble sizes by up to 20%, with 30 – 50% reduction observed in intermediate gas fractions.