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Oil spill cleanup by natural fibers: a review

Viju Subramoniapillai (Department of Textile Technology, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, India)
Govindharajan Thilagavathi (Department of Textile Technology, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, India)

Research Journal of Textile and Apparel

ISSN: 1560-6074

Article publication date: 25 August 2021

Issue publication date: 28 November 2022

116

Abstract

Purpose

In recent years, oil spill pollution has become one of the main problems of environmental pollution. Recovering oil by means of sorbent materials is a very promising approach and has acquired more attention due to its high cleanup efficiency. Compared to synthetic fibrous sorbents, the use of natural fibers in oil spill cleanups offers several advantages including environmental friendliness, degradable features and cost-effectiveness. Therefore, studies on developing sorbents using natural fibers for oil spill cleanup applications have become a research hotspot.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reviews the work conducted by several researchers in developing oil sorbents from fibers such as cattail, nettle, cotton, milkweed, kapok, populous seed fiber and Metaplexis japonica fiber. Some featured critical parameters influencing the oil sorption capacity of fibrous substrates are discussed. Oil sorption capacity and reusability performance of various fibers are also discussed. Recent developments in oil spill cleanups and test methods for oil sorbents are briefly covered.

Findings

The main parameters influencing the oil sorption capacity of sorbents are fiber morphological structure, fiber density (g/cc), wax (%), hollowness (%) and water contact angle. An extensive literature review showed that oil sorption capacity is highest for Metaplexis japonica fiber followed by populous seed fiber, kapok, milkweed, cotton, nettle and cattail fiber. After use, the sorbents can be buried under soil or they can also be burned so that they can be vanished from the surface without causing environmental-related issues.

Originality/value

This review paper aims to summarize research studies conducted related to various natural fibers for oil spill cleanups, fiber structural characteristics influencing oil sorption and recent developments in oil spill cleanups. This work will inspire future researchers with various knowledge backgrounds, particularly, from a sustainability perspective.

Keywords

Citation

Subramoniapillai, V. and Thilagavathi, G. (2022), "Oil spill cleanup by natural fibers: a review", Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 390-404. https://doi.org/10.1108/RJTA-03-2021-0031

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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