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Special Session: The Impact of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill on Chemical Engineering Education Gulf Coast Oil Spill Clean-up Technologies Using Absorbent Materials

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Impact of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill on Chemical Engineering Education & Misc.

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1319.1 - 22.1319.10



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Paper Authors


Willie (Skip) E. Rochefort Oregon State University

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Skip Rochefort is currently an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Director of OSU Precollege Programs ( and the Center for Outreach in Science and Engineering for Youth (COSEY) at Oregon State University. He has degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts (B.S., 1976), Northwestern University (M.S. 1978) and the University of California, San Diego (Ph.D., 1986). He has held several industrial research positions (Dow Chemical, Kodak, AT&T Bell Labs), and since 1993 he has been on the faculty in the OSU Chemical Engineering Department. He is an OSU Honors College faculty and has been recognized for his teaching and advising activities by ASEE, AIChE, the College of Engineering, and Oregon State University. His research interest for the last 35 years has been in all areas of polymer engineering and science, and for the last 18 years in engineering education. His passion is K-12 outreach for the recruitment and retention of women and minorities into engineering, with the current focus on introducing engineering science at the middle school and high school levels. His K-12 outreach activities can be found at

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Gail Ellen Gerdemann STEPs at Oregon State University

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Elementary classroom teacher for over 30 years including teaching junior high science as a Peace Corps volunteer in Montserrat, West Indies, 6th grade in Virginia, primary and intermediate grades in Albany and Corvallis, Oregon. K-5 STEPs Coordinator at Oregon State University funded by Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant since 1994 working with classroom teachers and university/community scientists developing STEM curriculum and training teachers. Currently employed by Corvallis School District to develop, pilot, manufacture materials kits, and inservice teachers for a complete K-5 engineering curriculum to meet Oregon's new standards.

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Special Session: The Impact of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill on Chemical Engineering EducationGulf Coast Oil Spill Clean-up Technologies Using Absorbent Materials Stephanie E. Silliman1, Audrey G. Oldenkamp2 and Dr. Skip Rochefort2,(1)Chemical Engineering, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA,(2)School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University,Corvallis, OROn April 20, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, releasing pproximately 210,000gallons of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico. On July 15, 2010 the gushing oil well was finallycapped. Scientists estimate that a total of 205,800,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the Gulf.The blowout is at a depth of one mile below the surface of the ocean. Most of the oil rises to thesurface due to density differences, but some oil gets trapped in underwater currents and travelsthroughout the ocean. Surface oil cleanup using various absorbent technologies was the focus of anactivity that was developed for both K-12 outreach and the First Year Chemical Engineering courseat OSU. The absorbent materials chosen were 1) Superabsorbant Polymer (SAP) sold specificallyfor the clean-up of oil spills; 2) Commercial cellulose-based absorbant material sold for the purposeof cleaning oil leaks, 3) Raw wool from the Willamette Valley (currently a waste product), and 4) Anon-woven wool product currently sold as a disaster-relief blanket. Activities were developed for awide range of skill levels to demonstrate the effectiveness of the different technologies, as well asthe economics and efficacy of deployment of these technologies in the Gulf Coast region (e.g.,could the current fishing fleet be deployed to use these technologies and if so, how could that bedone)..

Rochefort, W. S. E., & Gerdemann, G. E. (2011, June), Special Session: The Impact of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill on Chemical Engineering Education Gulf Coast Oil Spill Clean-up Technologies Using Absorbent Materials Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18370

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