Peat moss aimed at oil-spill cleanups
By Dave Harrison
April 28, 2010, Trøgstad, Norway –
Kallak Torvstrøfabrikk in
Trøgstad in eastern Norway has developed a peat moss mixture with
good absorbent qualities.
|The peat moss is a remarkably good|
PHOTO: SVERRE C. JARILD
April 28, 2010, Trogstad, Norway – Kallak Torvstrøfabrikk in
Trøgstad in eastern Norway has developed a peat moss mixture with unusually
good absorbent qualities. The material could be a useful tool for clearing up
oil-spills after minor incidents or major catastrophes.
The three-man company has traditionally sold treated peat
moss as a component of soil for flowering plants and as growth medium. But
realizing that the peat moss is a remarkably good absorbent, they began to find
other potential uses for it.
SINTEF “Expertise broker” Leif Estensen connects researchers
with companies that lack research and development experience. Three years ago,
he brought Kallak and SINTEF together. An expertise broking project was set up
with scientists from SINTEF's Marine Environmental Technology department, with
the aim of testing different types of peat moss and documenting their
The conclusions drawn from the testing program were quite
clear: the peat moss had excellent potential, since its ability to absorb oil
was as good as, or in some cases even considerably better than, other products
already available on the market.
USED IN THE ‘FULL CITY’ INCIDENT
In the summer of 2009, the Panama-registered “Full City” ran
aground off Langesund on the south-east coast of Norway, causing severe oil
contamination along much of the coast. This incident gave Kallak
Torvstrøfabrikk the chance to demonstrate the efficacy of its new product on
Svein Ramstad of SINTEF's Marine Environment department says
that the peat moss was deployed on a geological conservation area near
Langesund and at Stavern. The area was heavily contaminated, and particular
care needed to be taken. Gravel and stones were mixed with the peat moss and
were laid back in their original position, to good effect.
Kallak Torvstrøfabrikk has recently developed a series of
other products based on its peat-moss absorbent material, such as three metre-long
“sausages” and buckets of peat moss, which the fire brigade and operators of
heavy machinery can use in the event of spills of oil, diesel fuel or other
environmentally hazardous liquids.
The peat moss mixtures have been laboratory tested on various
types of crude oil and bunkers oil. In 2008, the little company won an
industrial research and development contract with Veolia Miljø for product
development and commercialization, and it is now looking at potential sales
elsewhere in Europe.