You are on page 1of 15

How can metal oxides and magnets save our

next generation from man-made disaster?


(Metal Oxide utilization for oil spill cleanup)

Shin Seung Heon Brian


Science Lab Report
Mr. Lawrence
Gr. 10B
May 18, 2015

Contents:
1.

Introduction

2.

Background Information

3.

Aim

4.

Variables

5.

Controlling Variables

6.

Hypothesis

7.

Methodology & Materials

8.

Raw Data

9.

Graphed Data and Analysis

10.

Conclusion

11.

Evaluation

1.0 Introduction
Walk down the local street of any country, anywhere, anytime. Go up to a stranger
and ask, What is the biggest cause of problem in our worlds ecosystem today? Over
90% of the strangers, no matter where you are, would repeatedly say the same word,
pollution. Pollution, the introduction of contaminants and pollutants into the natural,
neutral environment that causes adverse changes, isnt a simple matter anymore; the
vastly negative impact that pollution takes on our current world is beyond the human
beings control. An estimated half a million peoples death by air pollution in India,
14,000 deaths per day in developing countries due to water pollution 1, emission of
excessive greenhouse gases, ocean acidification, and much more unexpected, and
immeasurable pessimistic consequences divulge as the challenges over pollution
proliferates ferociously.
In order to save our planet by solving the problems on pollution, Ive created a survey
inquiring on the peoples opinions about the most urgent type of pollution to solve. Here
is the graphed result:

1 Wikimedia.(2015,May16).WorldHealthOrganization.RetrievedMay17,2015,from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization

Population:
- Middle school and High
school students of Cebu
International School
Sampling:
- Stratified Sampling
- 5 students per grade
level
- Grade 6 12
Survey Question:
- What is the most urgent
type of pollution in the 21st
century?

What is the most urgent


type of pollution in the 21st century?
Air Pollution (Vehicle Exhaust)
Water Pollution (Oil Spill)
Soil Pollution10%

6%

19%

16%
Noise Pollution
Radioactice8%
Pollution (Nuclear
40% Power Plant)
Thermal Pollution (Power Plants)

Among these different problems, particular issues are more urgent and essential
than the rest. As the worlds demand and consumption of oil increases at a fast pace, oil
spills are constantly happening all over the seas of Earth. Based on Environmental
Research Consulting (ERC) Twenty-year trend Analysis of Oil Spills in EPA
Jurisdiction2, an average of 8 million gallons of crude oil is spilled in the Pacific Ocean.
Oil spills arent merely a problem of the loss of oil for use, but are a huge cause of the
damages made into marine ecosystems, animal habitats, as well as the deaths of living
organisms.
Although the human race has made several attempts of cleaning the deleterious oil spills
for a significant duration of time, the results were mediocre since the best we could do
was merely containing the oil and preventing it from spreading but was not able to
remove it from the ocean. Therefore, based on the concepts of the Fermi lab Physicist

2 USEPAArchive,andSchmidt,D.(2014).TwentyyeartrendAnalysisofOilSpillsinEPA
Jurisdiction.1sted.USEPAArchive,p.21

Arden Warner3, this experiment will explore through the practical utilization of naturally
occurring metal oxides and magnet for cleaning oil spills, a solution that will save our
generation. The results will reveal the most efficient and appropriate naturally metal oxide
for cleaning oils spills, an oxide that is effective in carrying the oil to a particular area and
that is completely harmless to the marine ecosystem. Once again, the result of the graph
above and a significant portion of my own concerns sense an urgency of the problem.
Thus a solution to save the next generation from man-made disasters, especially oil spills,
is definitely necessary, and this experiment will reveal the crucial role magnets and
naturally occurring mental oxides will be taking in creating a pristine ecosystem
throughout the whole planet.

** In the background information, writings underlined are


safety precautions to take. Read carefully and follow the
safety instructions for the materials that are used in this
experiment.

3 USEPAArchive,andSchmidt,D.(2014).TwentyyeartrendAnalysisofOilSpillsinEPA
Jurisdiction.1sted.USEPAArchive,p.21

2.0Background Information
2.1

METAL OXIDES

Oxide is a chemical compound, which is consisted of at least one oxygen (O) atom
and another chemical element, such as a transition metal. Involving this current research on
cleaning oil spills by utilizing magnets, the metal oxides that are used in this experiment
contains an anion4 of oxygen in its oxidation stage of -2.5 Metal oxides are solid at room
temperature. Metal oxides that are going to be used in this experiment are:

Magnetite/ Ferric Oxide(Fe3O4)


Magnesium Oxide
(MgO)
Zinc Oxide
(ZnO)
Calcium Oxide
(CaO)
Potassium Oxide
(K2O)

2.1.1

Magnetite / Ferric (Iron) Oxide

Magnetite is a mineral, which is one of the three common naturally occurring iron
oxides. It is also the most magnetic of all the naturally occurring minerals on Earth. 6
Magnetites attribute of being magnetic and natural makes it sufficiently useful and relevant
for oil cleaning purposes since. Since magnetite is a naturally occurring mineral, even if it is
added onto the ocean, it wouldnt have any negative impacts on the marine ecosystem.
Appearance / Color
Tenacity
Solubility

2.1.2

Black, gray with brownish tint in reflected sun

Brittle
Dissolves gradually in hydrochloric acid

Magnesium Oxide

Unlike Magnetite, magnesium oxide is an artificial material that is produced by the


heating of magnesium carbonate or magnesium hydroxide or by the treatment of magnesium
chloride with lime.7 Magnesium oxide is still physically and chemically stable at high
temperatures; however, precautions must be taken when magnesium oxides are burned with
flames since the highly bright flame is very hard to extinguish and it also emits a harmful
intensity of UV light. Also, inhalation of magnesium oxides may cause metal fume fever.
Therefore during experiment, magnesium oxide must be used away from high temperature
heat at all times.
Appearance

White Powder

4 Anion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the
total number of protons, giving the atom or molecule a positive or electrical charge

5 Wikimedia.(2015,May9).Oxide.RetrievedMay17,2015,from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxide
6 Wikimedia.(2015,May15).Magnetite.RetrievedMay17,2015,from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetite
7 Wikimedia.(2015,May15).Magnesiumoxide.RetrievedMay17,2015,from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_oxide

3.58g / cm3
Soluble in acid, ammonia, and water

Density
Solubility

2.1.2

Zinc Oxide

Similar with magnesium oxide, zinc oxide also has an appearance of white powder
but it isnt soluble in water. Zinc Oxide is an inorganic compound, which is widely used as an
additive in multiple materials such as rubbers, plastics, ceramic, paints, etc. 8 Although
particular zinc oxides occur naturally as zincite, majority of them are produced synthetically.
Zinc oxide itself is non-toxic; however it is hazardous to inhale zinc oxide fumes, which is
generated when zinc or zinc alloys are melted and oxidized at high temperature. During the
experiment, its essential to keep zinc oxides away from fire and heat.
Appearance
Density
Solubility

2.1.3

White Powder
5.606g / cm3
Soluble in hydrochloric acid

Calcium Oxide

Also known as quicklime or burnt lime, calcium oxide is a commonly used


chemical compound for cement production, illumination (light), paper production, etc.
Relatively, quicklime is an inexpensive material; therefore it may be efficient to utilize in
cleaning up the oil spills. However, in comparison to other oxides, such as ferric oxide and
magnesium oxide, its performance in carrying oil to the magnet may be poor and calcium
oxides reaction with water has to be cautioned. Because of vigorous reaction of quicklime
with water, quicklime causes severe irritation when inhaled or placed in contact with moist
skin or eyes. Inhalation may cause coughing, sneezing, labored breathing. It may then evolve
into burns with penetration of the nasal septum (nose), abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
Although quicklime is not considered a fire hazard, its reaction with water can release enough
heat to ignite combustible materials.9 It is absolutely mandatory to heed these precautions
since calcium oxides reaction with water may take negative impact when inhaled. Therefore
during the experiment, always wear safety goggles, lab gown, gas mask, and gloves to
prevent any dangers.
Appearance
Density
Solubility

2.1.3

White Powder
5.606g / cm3
Soluble in hydrochloric acid

Potassium Oxide

Potassium Oxide is a very simple substance, an ionic compound of potassium and


oxygen. However, potassium oxide in the form of K2O is highly reactive; thus identical
precautions with calcium oxide must be taken for potassium oxide as well. Potassium oxide is
used for industrial contexts such as cement formulas, glass-making formula, fertilizers, etc. 10
Although potassium oxide may be inefficient in carrying oil towards the magnet, as an oxide,
it is worth experimenting on its functionality
Appearance

Pale Yellow Powder

8 Wikimedia.(2015,May13).Zincoxide.RetrievedMay17,2015,from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_oxide
9 Wikimedia.(2015,May15).Calciumoxide.RetrievedMay17,2015,from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_oxide
10 Wikimedia.(2015,May17).Potassiumoxide.RetrievedMay17,2015,from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_oxide

Density
Solubility

2.32 g / cm3
With water forms KOH

3.0Aim
The main objective of the experiment is to determine the most
efficient metal oxide for oil cleaning utilization.

4.0

Variables

Independent: Types of Naturally Occurring metals and metal oxides with varying
oxygen
content (Due to bonding)
Dependent: Quantity (milliliters) of oil retrieved from the water tank
Time taken to retrieve maximum amount of oil
Control:
Amount of oil added
Distance of oil from the magnet
Amount of Naturally Occurring Magnet added
Type of oil added
Amount of water within the tank

5.0

Controlling Variables

Independent:

The types naturally occurring magnets (Ferric Oxide (Magnetite), Magnesium Oxide,
Calcium Oxide, Zinc Oxide, and Potassium Oxide) utilized, which are necessary to remain
identical throughout the whole duration of experiment, can be ensured to stay constant by
utilizing identical materials for all of the experiments. By observing the metal oxides
qualities, including precise physical features, amount of iron content, chemical make up, etc.,
the magnets type can be assured as identical. Seeking help from a Chemist, science teacher,
or an expert would also be beneficial to ensure the independent variables identity.
Controlled:
Amount of oil added: By utilizing a beaker, exactly measure correct amount (50mL) of oil
added
Distance of oil from the magnet: By using a ruler or a measuring tape, measuring the distance
from the oil to the glass wall, where the magnet will be placed.
Amount of Naturally Occurring Magnet added: By using a weighing scale, ensure the amount
of magnets by weighing the grams of the magnet powders.
Type of oil added: Use the same oil from the same source ensures the identical type of oil.
Amount of water within the tank: By using a beaker, measure 30L of water into the fish tank.
Once added, also use a ruler to measure the height of the water added (20cm)

6.0

Hypothesis

If the metal oxide contains more ferromagnetic (or ferromagnetic) content, then the time
taken to retrieve the oil would be shorter and larger amount of oil retrieved will be higher.

7.0 Materials & Methodology

Materials
Powder Magnetite/ Ferric Oxide
(Fe3O4)
Powder Magnesium Oxide
Powder Zinc Oxide
Powder Calcium Oxide
Powder Potassium Oxide
Separating Funnel
Rectangular Fish Tank (50cm * 30cm
* 30cm)
Saltwater
Freshwater (Distilled water)
Magnet Bar
Crude Oil (Petroleum)
Cooking Oil
Timer
Ruler
Marker
Pencil
Notebook

Quantity
10 grams
10
10
10
10

grams
grams
grams
grams

1 tank
30 Liters
30 Liters
2 Bars
300 mL
3000 mL
1 timer
1 feet
1 marker
1 pencil
1 notebook

**Precautions:
Always wear gloves, safety goggles, lab gown, and gas mask for handling certain
oxides: Calcium oxide & Potassium Oxide
Magnesium Oxide must be placed away from heat and fire
Zinc Oxide must be placed away from heat and fire
Wear gas mask when adding Calcium Oxide and Potassium Oxide onto the oil
Wear all necessary equipment, goggles, lab gown, and gloves before starting

Procedure:
1. Fill the Rectangular Fish Tank Up to the tanks height of 20 cm or 30 liters with Salt
Water. (Tanks height 20cm = to 30 liters)
2. On the center of the tank (20cm away from a certain glass wall), spill 50 mL of Crude
Oil (Petroleum) adjust the position of the oil and then mark a point or a line exactly
20cm away from one side of the fish tanks glass wall.
3. Sprinkle 10 grams of powder Magnetite (Fe3O4), equally spread, on top of the oil, and
then wait about 20 seconds.
4. On the exterior part of the fish tank, place a magnet bar where the point (20cm away)
was marked.
5. By using a stopwatch, once the magnet bar is placed on the glass wall, start the
stopwatch, and wait until the maximum amount of oil and the metal oxides are
attracted onto where the magnet bar is.
6. Stop the time and record the data on a notebook, by utilizing table A, once all of the
magnet and oil is attracted onto the sides of the glass wall with the magnet bar. If all
of the magnet and oil doesnt come back or gets attracted by the magnet within 1
minute, stop the stopwatch and record the data.

7. ** Always Wear Lab Gloves At this point By using 250 mL beaker, scoop all of the
oil attracted to the glass wall water can be collected together as well but try to
minimize the amount of water scooped into the beaker with the oil.
8. Wait about 30 seconds to 1 minute for the oil and water to separate by itselves.
9. By using a separatory funnel, carefully separate the oil from the water, onto a 100mL
beaker.
10. Measure how much oil was collected, and then write down the amount of oil
collected alongside the time taken on Table A to gather all of the oil (measured in step
5 and 6).
11. Repeat steps 1 ~ 10 with other types of powder metal oxides zinc oxide, magnesium
oxide, calcium oxide, and potassium oxide- with the same quantities of each of the
materials given.
12. Have a total of 3 trials from step 1 step 11, with all the metal oxides utilized.
13. Put all of the collected raw data on Table A and analyze by explaining the results.
Table A:

Type of Metal

Time Taken to reach glass


wall (seconds)

Amount of Oil retrieved


(mL)

Powder Magnetite/ Ferric


Oxide (Fe3O4)
Powder Magnesium Oxide
Powder Zinc Oxide
Powder Potassium Oxide
Powder Calcium Oxide

8.0

Raw Data

Trial 1:

Type of Metal
Powder Magnetite/ Ferric
Oxide (Fe3O4)
Powder Magnesium Oxide
Powder Zinc Oxide
Powder Potassium Oxide
Powder Calcium Oxide

Time Taken to reach glass


wall (seconds)
4.7 seconds
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)

Amount of Oil retrieved


(mL)
50 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

Trial 2:

Type of Metal
Powder Magnetite/ Ferric
Oxide (Fe3O4)
Powder Magnesium Oxide
Powder Zinc Oxide
Powder Potassium Oxide
Powder Calcium Oxide

Time Taken to reach glass


wall (seconds)
4.2 seconds
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)

Amount of Oil retrieved


(mL)
50 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

10

Trial 3:

Type of Metal
Powder Magnetite/ Ferric
Oxide (Fe3O4)
Powder Magnesium Oxide
Powder Zinc Oxide
Powder Potassium Oxide
Powder Calcium Oxide

Amount of Oil retrieved


(mL)

Time Taken to reach glass


wall (seconds)
5.3 seconds
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)
Reached Maximum
min.)

9.0

50 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

(1

0 mL

Graphed Data

1. Time Taken to retrieve oil (seconds)


Trial 1 Time taken

Trial 2 Time taken


Trial 3 Time taken
606060 606060 606060 606060

5.3
4.7
4.2

2. Amount of oil retrieved


Trial 1 Amount of Oil
Trial 2 Amount of Oil
50 50 50

0 0 0

Trial 3 Amount of Oil

0 0 0

0 0 0

0 0 0

11

Average Amount & Time


Amount of Oil (mL)

Time taken (seconds)

Powder Calcium Oxide


0

60

Powder Potassium Oxide


0

60

Powder Zinc Oxide


0

60

Powder Magnesium Oxide


0

60

Powder Magnetite/ Ferric Oxide (Fe3O4)

9.1

4.73

50

Data Analysis

In order to ensure the results of the experiment, the same procedure has been repeated
over 3 trials. The main rationale behind measuring 2 distinct dependent variables (time taken
to retrieve all of the oil and the amount of oil retrieve) is to determine the best type of metal
oxide for retrieving oil, due to its ability to carry oil into the magnet and its efficiency within
a certain duration of time limit. All of the variables including the independent variable, type
of metal oxide, and the controlled variables, including amount of metal oxide, amount of oil,
distance of magnet, etc., were all kept equal in order to reduce errors and to prevent any
external factors that may take impact on the results of the experiment. Below are the analyses
to each of the graphs presented on Page 11:

Time taken to retrieve oil (Trial 1, 2, 3):


During the onset of the experiment, all of the metal oxides were forecasted to
retrieve all of the oil within the maximum time of 60 seconds. In contrary to the expectations,
only the magnetite / ferric oxide was able to show an excellent performance by being able to
retrieve all of the oil content within 10 seconds for all 3 trials. Magnetite / Ferric oxide was
able to display its efficiency by having an instant bonding with the oil substance; thus
carrying the oil towards the magnet bar on the single side of the water tank. On the other
hand, calcium oxide, potassium oxide, zinc oxide, and especially magnesium oxide, which
was predicted to show significant performance, were all unable to bring in the oil substance
towards the magnet bar. Although the zinc oxide and the magnesium oxide were attracted to
the magnet bar when placed at a close distance (within 10cm), by being placed at a distance
of 20 cm, which was part of the methodology, no effect was taken. Overall, this graph of
time taken to retrieve oil evidently presents the efficiency of magnetite / ferric oxide in
carrying oil at a comparatively fast pace, while the rest of the metal oxides reached the
maximum time limit of 60 seconds without showing any changes into the movement of the
oil.

Amount of oil retrieved (Trial 1, 2, 3):


In relation to the results displayed in the 1st graph, the results on measuring the
amount of oil retrieved also leans towards the efficiency of magnetite / ferric oxide as well.
Among the 5 different types of metal oxides, magnetite / ferric oxide was the only oxide to
actually carry the oil towards the magnet bar. Surprisingly, magnetite / ferric oxide was able
to bring all 50 mL of the oil onto the magnet bars glass wall side. Although magnesium oxide

12

and zinc oxide showed small movements towards the magnet, none of the oil was carried onto
the magnet bar within the time limit of 60 seconds. Unfortunately, aside from magnetite /
ferric oxide, none of the metal oxides were able to achieve its expected task within the time
limit. On all 3 trials, the same results were repeated: only magnetite / ferric oxide was able to
carry all 50 mL of oil onto the magnet bar unlike the rest of the metal oxides.

Average Result:
Generally, it can be analyzed that the only metal oxide that has shown favorable result
was the magnetite / ferric oxide. Within an average time of 4.73 seconds, it was able to carry
50 mL of oil into the magnet bar side of the glass wall. The repetition of experiment ensured
that the performance of magnetite/ferric oxide was outstanding for the utilization of cleaning
of oil spills, while the performance of the other metal oxides, based on the time taken to
retrieve oil and the amount of oil retrieved, was fairly poor. These results holistically build up
into the final conclusion that magnetite / ferric oxide is the best-fit and most efficient type of
metal oxide in response to the aim of this experiment.

10.0 Conclusion
Solely based on the results of my own experiments, evidence strongly proves that the
metal oxide with highest efficiency, in terms of duration of time and amount of oil retrieved,
for cleaning up oil spill is evidently the magnetite / ferric oxide. As the result portrays,
magnetite / ferric oxide was able to retrieve 50 mL of oil with an average duration of 4.73
seconds, which is definitely a significant achievement and an essential key to save our world
from further water pollution. Like what has been mentioned in the introduction, oil spills
arent a simple matter to ignore: it creates devastating, deadly impacts, negatively influencing
the marine ecosystem, the habitats of numerous animals, and as well as the lives of many
organisms. The survey has also shown proof that the people of my own educated community
believe that the most urgent pollution problem to solve is the constant oil spills, happening all
around the world.
Although the rest of the other metal oxides, including calcium oxide, magnesium
oxide, zinc oxide, and potassium oxide, havent shown any effective performance, such result
isnt futile since the experiment was still able to uncover the positive functions of magnetite
and examine the genuine capabilities of magnetite / ferric oxide in carrying oil towards the
magnet. This overall concept of magnetites / ferric oxides ability in carrying oil can be
greatly enhanced to have a practical utilization in cleaning the actual oil spills on the sea.
Instead of using a magnet bar, generators of electromagnetic waves can be put into the sea, in
order to control the electromagnetic waves current and guide all of the oil (with added
magnetite / ferric oxide) in the sea to a certain area where the oil can be retrieved. At that
point, filters can be used to filtrate the seawaters from the oil. The retrieved oil would be
reusable and the magnetite / ferric oxide could also be used again to go through the same
process for another oil spill on another distant sea. By repeating such method, all of the oil
spills could definitely be cleaned in a relatively short amount of time, and the amount of oil
available for use would also increase. Additionally, anxieties over the toxicity of magnetite /
ferric oxide isnt necessary because magnetite / ferric oxides are a naturally occurring
material. Therefore, they are not toxic or harmful for the marine ecosystem.
As a young scientist and also as a concerned citizen of the worlds environment, I
strongly commend this method in cleaning the current oil spills around the world, for this is
definitely a cornerstone of a healthy future. Magnetite / ferric oxide and magnets are the keys
to not only regaining our worlds sanitation, but also in saving the lives of millions, if not
billions of organisms on Earth. Results of this experiment generally conclude the fact that oil
spills are actually viable, we, as human beings, have regained our chance to clean up the mess
that we have created ourselves.

13

11.0 Evaluation
Through an extensive experiment, the results were able to reveal the fact that
magnetite / ferric oxide is the most efficient metal oxide for cleaning up oil spills. Although
the results displayed positive data, which led to the final conclusion of the whole experiment,
errors still can be found within the method that I had utilized for the conduction of data. First
of all, the method that I have created requires improvements and altercations on many
different parts. Most importantly, it is crucial to keep all of the other controlled variables
constant in order to reduce any external factors taking impact on the result of the experiment.
During the process of conducting the experiments, external factors, such as changes made into
the metal oxides due to the exposure into open air, may have influenced the result of the data.
Additionally, the strength of the magnet bar utilized to attract the metal oxides into a certain
area may have been comparatively weak in order to take effect on the metal oxides besides
magnetite / ferric oxide. During the measuring of time taken for the metal oxides to carry the
oil towards the magnet bar, errors definitely may have happened due to inaccurate
measurement of time. Considering these factors, the results have an equal possibility to
contain flaws and errors, based on the inaccuracies mentioned above.
In order to prevent the possible errors mentioned above, realistic improvements are a
necessity. First of all, on of this experiment methods strength is the repetition of trials in
order to determine whether the results are constantly the same. However, in order to further
secure the results of the experiment, more trials (about 5 trials) could be done in order to
reduce any unparalleled results and to find out the best fit, or average result of the total trials.
For the materials used in the experiments, external factors influencing the state of the
materials, especially chemical materials, can be reduced by always keeping the materials in its
rightful containers, and by closing its lids in order to prevent any type of reaction or
interaction with other substances, creating higher possibilities of changing the materials itself.
During the measurement of time, it would definitely be more efficient to have more than 2
people measure the duration taken to retrieve all the oil in a single trial. By doing so, the time
measured can be averaged out, narrowing down the possibilities of errors. Lastly, its always
crucial to double check whether the materials used are the correct materials, as well as the
given quantity for use, stated on the methodology. By utilizing the rightful tools, scientists
should always be certain of the amount of materials they are using. By following these
changes, improvements can definitely be made and errors would certainly reduce.
Considering these actual errors and possible errors of the method utilized, certainly,
many improvements can be made. By applying the solutions given above, the experiment

14

would be much more trustworthy and the results would be more valid. This experiment
tackling real life problem of the 21st century, it is very crucial to reduce the errors and the
increase the amount of validity and trust. By acknowledging the errors listed above, and by
making changes onto the method, the experiment would reveal more accurate and trustworthy
results.

15