Separation and treatment of pollutants (Ballast water, oil spill response, waste treatment and bioremediation) WP7

The intention of this workpackage is to take the knowledge developed through the contract research activities at Northern Research Institute Narvik and generalise and tailor it for use in educational courses, and for generating further research projects. Four main thematic areas were identified:

  • Ballast water treatment
  • Oil spill response
  • Waste treatment
  • Bioremediation

The main researchers involved in this work package at Northern Research Institute Narvik are:

  • Dr. Nga Phuong Dang, PhD Microbiology, University of Stuttgart, Germany, 2004
  • Dr. Christian Petrich, PhD Physics, University of Otago, New Zealand, 2005
  • Dr. Ross Wakelin, PhD Chemical & Process Engineering, University Canterbury, New Zealand, 1993
  • Dr. Adrian Verhoef , PhD Computational Chemistry, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 2010


 Description of sub-project activities

 Oil Spill Response –  encapsulation of oil in sea ice

The temporary removal of spilled oil from the Arctic marine environment is studied in a low-temperature laboratory. When spilled oil impinges on the underside of sea ice, oil moves laterally beneath the ice to pool in depressions. The lateral mobility of oil increases with speed of ocean currents but is inhibited once growing sea ice encapsulates oil lenses. Oil encapsulated into ice is effectively removed from the ocean until the onset of melt. Here, the process of oil encapsulation is studied in order to predict the time required for encapsulation in field spills.

The equipment for studying the encapsulation of oil in sea ice, in NORUT Narviks Cold Room (-30 deg C)


Experiments are performed in a 130 L Perspex seawater tank. Removable insulation allows for the simultaneous observation of ice growth and encapsulation process through the side walls and through the bottom of the tank. Ice growth and temperature profiles are continuously logged before and after the introduction of oil beneath the ice. The tank is set up in a cold laboratory. Laboratory facilities were built into a refrigerated shipping container and comprise a warm preparation and control room, and a room for experiments at temperatures as low as -30 °C.






Petrich, C.; Karlsson, J . & Eicken, H. “Porosity of growing sea ice and potential for oil entrainment”, submitted to Cold Regions Science and Technology, under review, November 2012.

Petrich, C. & M. Arntsen. “Laboratory Studies of Oil Encapsulation under Growing Sea Ice”. Abstract submitted to 22nd International Conference on Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions (POAC), to be held in Helsinki, Finland, June 2013.

Petrich, C. “A review of oil encapsulation and entrainment in growing sea ice”. Literature review prepared for Fram Center, February 2012.

Petrich, C. “A review of oil encapsulation and entrainment in growing sea ice”. Presentation given at Fram Center meeting, January 2012.


Bioremediation of Diesel, October 2012

A lab trial was performed studying the biodegradation of fresh diesel added to beach sand, at 10 deg C. The results are summarised in the flyer attached below.

EWMA Flyer Diesel Bioremediation


Bioremediation of crude oil, Nov 2011

A lab trial was performed studying the biodegradation of crude oil (Kobbe field, stabilised 280 deg C) added to beach sand, at 10 deg C. The results are summarised in the flyer attached below.

EWMA Flyer Crude Oil Bioremediation


Production of biosurfactants from naturally occurring bacteria

A study funded by the MABIT programme examined the capability of local, cold-climate adapted microbes to produce biosurfactants – chemicals that assist the dispersion of the petroleum contaminant into the water phase, thus improving the access to the bacteria that can degrade the petroleum.

EWMA Flyer Biosurfactants


Exam time for oil spill response

In winter 2009 a helicopter lost a 1000 litre container in Strandvatnet, Bogen/Evenes. The progress of the degradation of the diesel was followed up, and compared with the claims of the controlling authorities.

EWMA Flyer Strandvatnet Diesel spill


Oil in ice research at NORUT Narvik

When an oil spill occurs under sea ice the oil can penetrate a certain distance into the porous structure of the ice. It can also become encapsulated under the ice when the lower water layers freeze. In the spring thaw the oil will come to the surface. Understanding of the spreading, encapsulation and thawing processes is useful for planning oil spill response efforts in cold climate areas.

EWMA Flyer Oil in ice


Treatment of nickel contaminated water 

This work investigates different approaches for removing and/or recovering heavy metals from mine drainages and wastewaters with respect to removal efficiency and cost effectiveness. As an example it is used nickel, which is a contaminant in acid mine drainage, industrial wastewaters and production water from oil reservoirs. Nickel can be removed from contaminated water by physical, chemical and electrochemical methods.

EWMA Flyer Nickel contamination treatment


 Treatment of shipping ballast water

Worldwide spreading of non-native species via ballast water is in the top five threats to marine biological diversity. Therefore, a ballast water performance standard has been developed, that will soon enter into force. Based on size and type of micro-organism, maximum concentrations per unit of discharged ballast water are set. At the latest by 2016 all vessels should be adapted to fulfill these discharge requirements. Norut Narvik has gathered knowledge on both status and technologies of the different treatment systems to advise and educate on case-optimised solutions. Most important study cases consist of, but are not limited to, ship-based transport of raw materials and products for the mining, oil and gas industry in the Arctic.

EWMA Flyer Ballastvann



Related links

In the Press

Bladet Vesterålen 11-10-2009