What makes an oil skimmer work?
1. Cohesion/Surface Tension -
Oil particles are attracted to each other. Cohesion is the intermolecular attraction between like molecules. This makes oil particles agglomerate and form bigger units/drops of oil, which enables the oil to not remain dispersed inside another liquid.
2. Adhesion/Affinity -
Oil particles are more attracted to adhere to certain materials/surfaces than others. Such surfaces or materials are called oleophilic materials. All oil skimmers rely on oleophilic materials to enable adherence of floating oil on these materials to separate the oil from the liquid body.
3. Specific Gravity -
Oil particles and most hydrocarbons have a lower specific gravity than water. So these oil particles rise to the surface of the water and float in the absence of agitation. This self floating ability of oil over water enables removal with the use of Oil Skimmers.
For an amazing video of Oil Removal using a belt skimmer, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4wE0Xtvs5c
For the various type of Oil Skimmers, you can visit