Gulf Oil Spill Experiments 

By Corporal Willy, June 6th 2010

     One member of our “Eagle Team” Mr. Crawford, thought about the possibility of all this Gulf Oil Spill floating on the surface acting with all the solar radiation to warm up the water.  Excellent question I thought and I could see a small back yard experiment coming up.

      I do know something about this field because it has been of great interest to me and to others around the world for many years.  This much I do know.  A shiny smooth highly reflective surface does reflect away solar radiation very nicely.  It can actually be used to concentrate and focus that solar energy to perform useful functions like solar heating that turns water into high pressure steam to drive turbines. 

Some of my 76 three inch square mirrors were not focused properly here on the center hot spot.

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When all these mirrors were focused properly the black hot receiver box with oven thermometer quickly went up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is safe to say that all that solar thermal energy did not get absorbed into the mirrors and it was reflected and focused onto a target.  That target was an 8 X 8 inch by 4 inch box with a Plexiglas cover and a 9 foot by 3/8 inch copper tubing coiled inside of it that would pick up that heat.  There would be a liquid pumped through it. 

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Then again dark rough surfaces tend to absorb solar radiation pretty well acting like a sponge to the solar energy coming to us from our sun.  Traveling at the speed of light (186,284 miles per second) it still takes the solar radiation 8 minutes and 20 seconds to cross the 93 million miles to Earth.  I have heard of some botanists and other solar scientists saying that dark green absorbs the sun light even better over a wider light spectrum because a good 95% or better of the Earth’s Plant Life has green leaves.  Not too many black leafed plants out there that I have ever come across and I think they were dead.  Mother Nature knows best.  She also lets us know when we do something to the earth that she doesn’t like.   My figs trees are offered here as evidence to the green leaf statement.  It is a miracle I didn’t kill them when I planted them.  Three hours per hole to dig their new homes in the desert dirt.  It is like a rock or cement.

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     Armed with this little knowledge I had to try some experiments just to prove  the possibility of the ocean water heating up as a question.  I cut off the tops of four water bottles.  I poured in 500 milliliters of tap water in all four bottles.  One bottle I left just plain water.  The second one I put in one level teaspoon of sea salt.  This was done to try and simulate the ocean salty brine taste.  I thought it was pretty close to what I could remember it tasting like.  The third bottle I poured one teaspoon of SAE 30 weight motor oil to the salty water to create an oil slick.  Okay I didn’t have any crude handy so this refined oil would have to do.  It did float to the surface so that proves that it was less dense than the water.  See I already proved something here.  Now in the fourth bottle I made a tar ball or heavy sludge type of floating mass.  My simulated tar ball sank and wasn’t thick enough to make that revolting sticky mass of goo which would have been the crude oil.  But it did give the water a different color which would help to absorb more solar radiation I thought and it gave it a definitely cloudy look.  After all solutions were carefully prepared I set them out in the Las Vegas, sunlight.  Today’s temperature was a pretty nice 104 degrees Fahrenheit at 11:15 am, in the shade.  So the ambient temperature will have something to do with this test but it will act evenly on all test samples.  I’m using a very sophisticated (best I had) probe type of Meat Thermometer to test the various temperatures of each solution sample.  I am not looking for real precision here but more of a trend to establish some provocative educated guesses here.

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    If this hypothesis is correct, the darker color and denser sample should absorb more solar radiation rendering itself a higher temperature.  My assumption would be that this would be correct.  But we will proceed with the test to make sure that this assumption is correct.  This would be a supportive argument to the question that the Gulf of Mexico Ocean water is getting warmer due to the catastrophic event and giving it more fuel for hurricanes that feed on the warmer water temperatures.  If this is found to be true then the very first hurricane to hit the area with this type of saturation of crude oil mass and surface slicks would produce a stronger hurricane before hitting the shore. 

The findings are hereby reported for this distinguished groups use.

a.    Samples 1, 2, 3, and 4, had these temperature readings taken at one hour intervals.    

b.    At one PM with an outside temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade I recorded; Sample 1 was 89F, 2 was 90F, 3 was 95F, and 4 was 95F.

c.    At two PM with same outside temperature I then again recorded these temperatures; Sample 1 was 97F, 2 was 98.5F, 3 was 100F and 4 was 101F.

At three PM with the same outside temperature the readings were; Sample 1 was 99F, 2 was100F, 3 was 102F and 4 was 103F.

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    I think there is a pattern here that can be observed with this simple control based test.  The two samples with the oil in it namely samples 3 & 4 definitely had higher readings than the two samples that had no oil in it.  The number 4, Sample was definitely the highest temperature setter.  I did use a magnifying glass to make all the recorded readings.  Maybe it was because it was cloudy or had a simulated glob of crude oil in it but it was undeniably the highest of all tested.  Not by much but when compared to the number 1 sample of plain tap water it was between 4-6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer.  Now how does that equate to about one third of the Gulf of Mexico being contaminated by this spill?  What temperature increase was caused by the spill?

 Finally, how much more will that provide in the thermal energy for a hurricane entering that area?  Something to consider here I think.  Even if my simple test was de-rated to 50% of its findings wouldn’t a 3 degree rise in ocean temperatures over that much surface area still be a “huge temperature fueling or boost of energy” for an approaching hurricane before coming ashore?  I hope this finding and hypothesis reaches those ears that are constantly on alert for storms in the Caribbean area.  Maybe they did a similar test?  I hope they had better equipment.  Bye for now, Corporal Willy here.

 

 

 



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