Reducing Flammability for Bakken Crude Oil for Train Transport - Phase I

Various crude oil train derailments in recent years have exposed critical shortcomings in existing rail infrastructure. These incidents lead to large oil spills, and the oil finds itself in the presence of various hot surfaces on the site (such as wheel wells). This is an especially dangerous situation in the case of Bakken crude, which is of a light variety and contains significant amounts of easy to evaporate, easy to ignite light ends, and usually the result is an intense fireball. This research proposal is about laying the groundwork in the first year for a larger, five-year project to improve fire safety during transportation by adding long chain polymers to crude oil before shipping. Previous research done by Prof Albert Ratner et al under MATC-DOT sponsorship has concluded that polymeric additives improve fire safety in diesel fuel and its blends by suppressing splashing, delaying ignition, and promoting flame extinction. There is a strong indication that the same will be true for crude oil as well. For the first year, mixtures of pure organic compounds, which mimic the splashing characteristics of Bakken crude, will be identified to act as crude oil splashing surrogates. Work will be well underway to identify similar surrogates for combustion, and is scheduled to be completed in the middle of Year 2. Surrogates are necessary because of their homogeneity, reproducibility, and better optical properties. Experimental setups and methods developed in aforementioned research will be used to study the splashing and combustion properties of surrogates and to link them to those of crude oil. Establishment of reliable surrogates will allow the research to proceed into Year 2, where the same work will be repeated with different polymers mixed in at different concentrations into the surrogates to establish the most optimal one.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $155800
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Mid-America Transportation Center

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    2200 Vine Street, PO Box 830851
    Lincoln, NE  United States  68583-0851

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Mid-America Transportation Center

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    2200 Vine Street, PO Box 830851
    Lincoln, NE  United States  68583-0851
  • Project Managers:

    Stearns, Amy

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Iowa, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

    3100 Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences
    Iowa City, Iowa  United States  52242
  • Principal Investigators:

    Ratner, Albert

  • Start Date: 20161201
  • Expected Completion Date: 20181204
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program
  • Source Data: RiP Project 91994-9

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01661873
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mid-America Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747107
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Mar 5 2018 3:08PM