Jet Formation at the Spill Site and Resulting Droplet Size Distributions

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Book Chapter

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Jet formation, Droplet size distribution, Live oil, Median drop size, Flow regime, Turbulent kinetic energy, Turbulence, Droplet breakup, Near-field, In situ measurements, Dissolved gas, Outgassing, Phase change, Dispersants

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The size distribution of oil droplets and gas bubbles forming at the exit geometry of a deep-sea blowout is one of the key parameters to understand its propagation and fate in the ocean, whether with regard to rising time to the surface, drift by ocean currents, dissolution or biodegradation. While a large 8 mm droplet might rise to the sea surface within minutes or hours, microdroplets < 100 μm may take weeks or months to surface, if at all. On the other hand, a microdroplet or bubble dissolutes faster due to its larger surface to volume ratio and is also more available for biodegrading bacteria. To be able to properly model these effects, it is necessary to understand the drop formation processes near the discharge point and to predict the evolving droplet size distribution (DSD) for the specific conditions.

In this chapter, the general breakup mechanisms and flow regimes of an oil-in-water jet are discussed in Sect. 4.1. Section 4.2 focuses on the different approaches to determine the DSD in the laboratory and field settings and critically reviews the existing datasets. State-of-the-art models for the prediction of the DSD of a subsea oil discharge are presented alongside a new approach based on the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) in Sect. 4.3, while Sect. 4.4 takes a closer look at the specific effects of the deep sea on the DSD. Based on this, Sect. 4.5 discusses the advantages and limitations of subsea dispersant injection. Section 4.6 provides a summary of the chapter and gives an outlook to unresolved questions.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Jet Formation at the Spill Site and Resulting Droplet Size Distributions, in S. A. Murawski, C. H. Ainsworth, S. Gilbert, D. J. Hollander, C. B. Paris, M. Schlüter & D. L. Wetzel (Eds.), Deep Oil Spills Facts, Fate, and Effects, Springer, p. 43-64