WASTE HUMAN HAIR-AN OIL RECOVERY MATERIAL PAR EXCELLENCE
The problem of oil pollution is today becoming a topical issue with two recent incidents atColomho harbour (due to a breakdown of a Cf'C pipe line) and at Kirinda (due to abreakdown of a salvaging operation or a ship). These incidents sometimes cause too muchreaction in some quarters. However. pollution from this source is not a new phenomena asservice stations scattered allover the island release oil to surface waters, drains or land.Some of these discharges also rind their way into the sea via river outfalls. Most importantlya majority of the service stations are closer to the coast as much of the economics in SriLanka are confined to the coastal belt, What has been rcalised is that in Sri Lanka yet thecapability does not cxist to handle a problem of this nature in an effective manner, It is alsofelt that there is an urgent need for a mechanism to take effective action in an event of thisnature.
The study concentrates on an observation made in the United States by a hairdresser in thestate of Alabama, which. was reported as a short piece of news in a US trade journal. Theaffinity of oil to human hair has been found to be high and this ohservation is subjected tosome theoretical and experimental study. Results from the practical findings arc presentedhere. 11 is shown that there are many ways of utilising this affinity in oil pollution control.There is potential to utilise the characteristics in a skimming device or as an adsorptionsystem. It is found that human hair adsorbs, rather than absorbs. oil which means thatinstead of bonding with the hair. the oil is retained in layers on the surface of the hair stands.Few types of devices have been constructed and tested and the results are quite positive andencouraging.
As the method involves removal and recovery of oil. the potential exists in this way 1'01' oilrecovery and reuse which is quite advantageous.