Cooking oil at high seas
rapeseed oil is being tested by British researchers to lubricate the oil rigs drilling in the North Sea. Developers say the oil would degrade more quickly than the mineral oils in use at present. Alistair Wilkinson and his team at Heriot-Watt University's Institute of Offshore Engineering, Edinburgh, have been testing the cooking oil for the last three years in a project called Vegetable Oils for Offshore Drilling Operations ( New Scientist , Vol 154, No 2078).
Rapeseed oil being used in the tests is the same that is used in kitchens across the world. The oil is not modified by the use of any chemicals. It has passed the tests for toxicity and biodegradability. The impact on the seabed creatures is expected to be very low as rapeseed oil degrades much faster than the mineral oils. The British government has already given the permission for the oil to be used in North Sea and it will be tested in the oil rigs later this year.
The researchers have worked in association with Enterprise Oil, a British oil company, to study the workability of rapeseed oil. It was found that the rapeseed oil could well endure the temperatures and pressures in the drilling oil wells. The oil functions well at temperatures up to 120