The severe ecological and economical aftermath of the 2010 ‘Deepwater Horizon’ catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico clearly shows the insufficiency of current oil recovery systems which cannot operate in wave heights above 1.5 m. To prevent emulsification and weathering processes, it is necessary to skim the oil film off the sea surface shortly after the accident. The autonomous SOS (Sea State-independent Oil Skimming System) developed within the framework of the research project SOS3 features high transit velocities, the capability of operating in rough seas and a massive intake of oil polluted water — and is therefore a unique technology. Numerical analyses of realistic oil skimming operations require three-dimensional transient three-phase flow simulations in order to take into account wave-induced ship motions. Due to the computational effort, a simplified approach is chosen for systematic investigations. Model tests at a scale of 1:25 are conducted in two different irregular sea states. In order to represent oil cleanup operations as realistically as possible, towing tests at constant velocities are replaced by a series of experiments with a free-running model. A self powered tug pushes the oil skimming barge and experiences interactions with waves, influencing the velocity and therefore the skimming performance of the SOS. Data from optical motion measurements of the barge is then used as input for two-dimensional CFD simulations. The numerical analyses are focusing on the oil-water-separation process of the realistically moving coupled system in different irregular sea states.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.