C.I Agent® Oil Filtration Panel and Geomembrane Liner Containment Systems FAQ

What is C.I.Agent?

C.I.Agent is an environmentally friendly petroleum-based blend of 7 different polymers. These polymers are hydrophobic and will always float on water (salt or fresh). Once C.I.Agent comes in contact with hydrocarbons (oil, diesel, gasoline), it solidifies them into a rubber-like mass. Once solidified, the hydrocarbons become non-toxic, float on water and do not leech.

How does C.I.Agent differ from the other Solidifiers in the marketplace?

C.I.Agent® is a blend of several different USDA food-grade polymers. Most other products on the market are made up of only one or two co-polymers. C.I.Agent Solutions has tested every polymer of any merit and have not found any that solidify the full spectrum of hydrocarbons ranging from low-end gasoline to heavy crude oil or work with the speed of C.I.Agent®.

How do C.I.Agent® and Imbiber Beads differ?

Imbibe in the dictionary, means to “drink in” or “take in”, “to absorb” (moisture too?).
Imbiber Beads increase in size by 30%; that would include water and hydrocarbon. This is why their filters seem to clog up quicker. There is very little volumetric increase in C.I.Agent®…it doesn’t “absorb” or expand…it simply turns a liquid to a solid by a physical reaction. Imbiber Bead’s literature suggests that they do “light-end” hydrocarbons; such as gasoline and diesel fuel and that they normally do not recommend Imbiber Beads products to be used with refined oils or lubricants, which transformer oil is, of course, both.

What is C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel made of?

The inside wall of the C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel is a basic geotextile made from a patented blend of recycled synthetic materials that are both hydrophobic and oleophilic. The material wicks the oil throughout the fibers and has a tremendous load capability per square inch. Agent-X makes up the outer wall of the Oil Filtration Panel. It is made of two layers of a geotextile with C.I.Agent polymers laminated between the layers. The material itself has a tremendous filtering effect and keeps oil from passing through this unique final outside wall. C.I.Agent Solidifying Polymers fill the void between the outer and inner wall. A unique quilting pattern keeps the C.I.Agent polymers from shifting during handling and installation.

Is C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel patented?

No. To patent C.I.Agent or the Oil Filtration Panel would mean we would have to divulge our proprietary formula and we are not willing to make that public. Also it is very expensive to defend it. Competitors have tried to copy our Oil Filtration Panel System but none have been successful in duplicating it.

What is the difference between a diversion product and full SPCC compliant product?

A diversionary product can be used if: 1) a response team can get to the spill site within an hour, 2) the diversion product will not allow the oil to leave the site within that time period, and 3) there is not an endangerment to a main water source within that time period. A full compliant product is used when response may be longer than an hour, will not allow the oil to leave the site no matter how long it takes responders to respond, and the site is not near a main water source.

I have been told that the polymer in your C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels shifts after time.

None of our customers have ever complained of shifting. We have two sources of polymers in our C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel; one is in our Agent-X material and one is blown in-between layers of Agent-X and another geotextile. Agent-X is a new generation of smart textiles with C.I.Agent Granules embedded between two geotextile layers. Movement of polymers is very unlikely. Then, C.I.Agent Granules are blown between the Agent-X layer and another geotextile and we finish with a quilting process that keeps the C.I.Agent Granules in place; no shifting.

How long will the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels last in the ground?

C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels are a “bury and forget” application. The outer non-woven synthetic material outer protective covering is rated for up to 200 years; the polymers inside the booms are a plastic and therefore do not have a shelf life.

Do rodents or bugs damage the Oil Filtration Panel once in the ground?

If the Oil Filtration Panel is exposed rodents could use the material for nesting. In a “to grade” installation, a trench is dug and the Oil Filtration Panel is placed inside the trench. Clean washed stone is placed on both sides thus protecting the Oil Filtration Panel. In a “dike” installation, the Oil Filtration Panel is staked above ground and is then covered with the clean washed stone.

If there is a spill, does the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel have to be replaced?

If the spill makes contact with the Oil Filtration Panel material you may only have to replace the section affected by the spill. The purpose of Oil Filtration Panel containment is to allow the natural flow of water through the Boom while trapping and containing any hydrocarbon release. If the section of Oil Filtration Panel involved in the spill was not removed, a natural rain/snow event could not flow through the spent Oil Filtration Panel thus causing pooling. When cleaning up after a spill one needs to keep the spill contractor from destroying all the Oil Filtration Panel when removing the stone from the containment site.

How much maintenance is involved with the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels?

Minimal maintenance is required for the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment System. A visual inspection should be performed on a regular basis and exposed Oil Filtration Panel should be recovered with stone. Berms may need to be reshaped using a hand rake. The only other times would be for expansion at the facility or some other form of maintenance, or, of course, if you experience an oil release. This is another one of the strong points of using C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel…they can be removed and then returned to the ground after the expansion or maintenance has been accomplished.

How do I know the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment System works?

The C.I.Agent Containment System was first introduced in Michigan in 2002. Through the help of civil, environmental and electrical engineers, we have been able to improve the original design. As a solutions leader, we looked for better geotextiles, new blends of polymers, and technical advances in production, which have all contributed to the successful use of C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panels in more than 9,000 applications. We can provide you with a list of satisfied customers; some being the largest utility companies in the United State. If that isn’t enough to calm your fears, our products are backed by a $2 Million Product Liability policy and $2 Million Environmental Insurance policy.

Do you have any examples of a real-world scenario where C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel successfully worked in a significant spill?

To our knowledge we do not know of any spill that has occurred in the U.S. at a site protected by C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel or Geomembrane Liner. Our representative in Australia did experience a spill in July of 2013. C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel filters placed in aluminum frames were installed in bund pits for secondary containment at a state government-owned Australian power company in an environmentally sensitive area. During a severe thunderstorm, one of the bund pits started to retain water. Our rep examined the filters and found that they had completely shut off the passage of water leaving the bund because they had captured oil from a leaking transformer. Further investigation showed the water left inside the pit measured no traces of oil. The bund pit was cleaned and new C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel filters were installed.

What about the effects of sediment on the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel over many years?

We usually do not see problems with sediment unless the Oil Filtration Panel was not installed properly or the contractor did not use clean washed stone. During a rain/snow event, the water dripping down the material actually washes sediment from the surface of the Oil Filtration Panel.

Will the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels burn in a fire?

As attested to by a Certified Fire Inspector, C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels under rock will not burn due to the lack of oxygen necessary to complete combustion.

What are the cost advantages of using the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment System?

Initially, C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment System will save a company anywhere from 50 to 80% over traditional containment methods; fewer materials, less time and labor, and no special equipment needed for installation. Plus, reduced costs for maintenance.

What is the difference between C.I.Agent® Oil Stop Valves or Hydrocarbon Flow Filters and SPI or other oil containment systems?

They solidify oil! If installed properly, with the proper head pressure and pre-filers, these valves give better than average flow rates and have less maintenance issues. They don’t have to be replaced every few years.

What is the advantage of using C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels over pits, oil/water separators, concrete or plastic containment walls?

Pits, oil/water separators, concrete or plastic containment walls require more materials, more time and more labor than using the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment System. By using the C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel Containment System you don’t create a swimming pool or have to use costly valves and filters to move the rain water. The Oil Filtration Panels process the water automatically and remove any light PPM of oil that may be in that water while preventing the possible oil release from migrating off the property. We work with your PE to design a containment system that will provide complete and compliant Secondary Containment. Most installations take less than a day and your equipment remains energized. Plus, our C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment System is backed with a $2 Million Product and $2 Million Environment Protection Insurance. No other company provides that!

With C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels in the ground, what do you do if you have a 25 year, 24 hour rain, or if in the winter your booms freeze in the ground?

Prior to installing a C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel Containment System, these issues would have been addressed with your PE. If you’re facility is located in a climate zone where these issues are more prevalent, our solution, in both situations, is to use a dike application. This is where the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels are not only in the ground, down to the subsurface, but above ground and covered with rock. The formula used to determine the height of the boom is to account for the entire amount of oil around the facility or equipment and to include enough freeboard to handle the rain or ice scenario. Another solution could be the use of a 95 Gallon C.I.Agent® Over Pack that includes over 100 feet of our Quick Deployment Boom and 50 pounds of C.I.Agent Polymers. This Rapid Spill Response System can be deployed during the above conditions at any facility that might be at risk.

Does C.I.Agent Solutions® have an Environmental Insurance Policy in place?

Yes, C.I.Agent Solutions® has a $2 Million Environmental Insurance Policy and a $2 Million Product Liability Policy. Customers who purchase a C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel Containment System will receive a Certificate of Insurance naming the customer as the Co-Insured. As far as we know, C.I.Agent Solutions is the only company in our industry that has this kind of policy.

Do I have to have Secondary Containment?

The SPCC Plans require that the owner/operator take measures to assure that no oil can escape from their site and get into the navigable waters of the United States. If you certify that; (1) any oil cannot escape the site and reach any type of water shed, storm sewer, drainage ditch, even during a rain event, or (2) that you could reach the site and prevent the oil from migrating off the site, then Secondary Containment would not have to be provided.

Is the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel approved by the EPA?

The EPA does not endorse, approve, recommend, license, or authorize the use of any product. C.I.Agent® Secondary Containment and Diversion Systems have been certified by Professional Engineering firms across the nation to meet or exceed the EPA’s SPCC Regulations, as set forth in 40 CFR 112.7 of the Federal Registry for Secondary Containment and Diversion methods. Refer to the Guidance Document.

How does C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels meet the Spill Prevention Controls and Countermeasures requirements?

40 CFR 112.7 (5)(c) states that the entire containment/diversion structure, including walls and floor, must be capable of containing oil, and must be constructed so that the oil will not escape containment before clean-up occurs. (j) States: Dikes, berms, or retaining walls sufficiently impervious to contain oil are acceptable prevention systems. When C.I.Agent® polymers come into contact with an organic hydrocarbon, such as transformer oil, it undergoes a molecular transformation and becomes an impervious barrier.

Do I need to contain 100% of the oil at my facility?

The SPCC Regulations states that the owner/operator needs to provide Secondary Containment for the “most likely” event. It is not likely that all the oil filled equipment would fail and drain at the same time. It is more likely that the largest oil-filled unit could fail and drain off. Most professional engineers (PE’s) feel that their SPCC Plan should be designed for the most likely event that would contain the amount of oil in the largest vessel, and which may or may not include enough freeboard to contain the oil plus a 25 year 24 hour rain event. The latter depends on locations and annual rainfall figures.

How does the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel work with grounding grids?

All substations have grounding grids. They are generally 18-24 inches below the surface. We factor the depth of the grid and the placement of conduit into our design on retro installs. The C.I.Agent Solutions’ Site Assessment Form requests that information and that is also why we require site drawings.

Will C.I.Agent® Solidify Cooper Power’s FR3 Oil?

Yes. C.I.Agent® solidifies FR3, a biodegradable vegetable oil, into a softer semi-solid. Cooper has tested C.I.Agent® in their lab and we have tested FR3 in ours. Bethea Tool & Equipment has also done testing with FR3 and C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel. Their report showed FR3 did not break through the C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panels. The EPA considers oil to be oil and it will still have to be contained and cleaned up, regardless of being fire resistant and biodegradable because it can still smother aquatic life.

Does C.I.Agent® work on biodegradable oils?

Be it double bonded biodegradable oil or single bond oil, the solubility parameter of the oil is the most important property. If the oil is between 7 and 11 Hildebrands, C.I.Agent® should work.

What effect do defoliate chemicals have on the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels?

The C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels are in the ground and covered with rock. By the time rainwater washes the chemicals down through the rock, the chemicals are diluted to the point that the outer protective non-woven synthetic material, which is a poly in itself, will attract and contain the chemicals in its fibers.

Does C.I.Agent® have the capability to absorb elemental mercury or its inorganic compounds from water, as well as, other trace metals in the same solid state form as it does the petroleum oils?

No. C.I.Agent will not attract elemental mercury or trace metals. It is likely to have some attraction for most trace compounds, but the attraction would be weak and therefore, ineffective in removing low concentrations.

What do I need to provide to obtain a quote on a C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment System?

We need up-to-date engineering drawings of the facility and/or the layout of the equipment. A Skype, WebEx, conference or one-on-one call needs to be held to determine the parameters of the containment system. Photos of the facility also help. Information we need includes: dimensions of the site, gravel depth, floor type, number of vessels, volume of largest vessel, total gallons on site, existing containment, nearest source of water, and more. When contacting C.I.Agent Solutions, ask for a Site Assessment Form.

I understand you have another secondary containment product besides Oil Filtration Panel.

Yes, that’s our Geomembrane Liner System with Oil Filtration Panel panels. It is best suited for containment around the transformer rather than the perimeter of a substation. Subsoil would also be a determining factor in its use.

We are thinking of using the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment System dike method. Will it hurt to drive our service vehicles over the dike?

This physical issue needs to be discussed with your engineer during the initial planning phase. Many customers want to get their service vehicles near the equipment. We recommend an earthen berm which is constructed of finely crushed limestone and packed into a vehicle ramp to go over the Oil Filtration Panel. We do not recommend driving over a berm as it could crush the Oil Filtration Panel causing possible product failure and invalidating the insurance policy.

Can our maintenance trucks drive over the C.I.Agent® Geomembrane Liner System?

Driving on the containment unit is not a problem IF the installation has planned for such activity. What is needed is six inches of pea stone below the liner and geotextile fabric placed on the floor before backfill. The deeper the containment unit, the less concern about vehicle traffic.

Does the C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel degrade if exposed to UV rays?

The fibers in Agent-X, one of the geotextiles used in the Oil Filtration Panel, will degrade if exposed to sunlight and oxygen, just like any other fiber would. However, a minimum of maintenance to keep the berm intact and to keep the Agent-X covered would lessen the effect considerably. The geotextile used in Agent-X has a UV Resistance of 70% (determined by the ASTM D4355 test method after 500 hours) and an Oxidation Resistance of 80% (determined by the EN 13438 test method). Exposed Oil Filtration Panel can be caused by natural events such as a heavy rain or snow/ice melt.

Do clay liners work as a barrier?

Clay liners will obviously crack if they get dry. However, cracking will depend on the proximity to the water table and the amount of rainfall. Also, while a liner may be cracked at the surface, the cracks may not penetrate the entire liner. The effectiveness of a liner depends on a variety of factors. If clay liners are exposed to liquids, they will swell and the cracks will close. Other liners, such as concrete, have similar problems and will crack due to subsidence and other natural processes. The main consideration is cost; an impermeable liner with a longer life than clay could be made, but the life cycle cost would likely be much higher.

If using a geo-synthetic clay liner (GCL), how much aggregate cover should be used?

Depending on the manufacturer of the GCL, 12 inches is the minimum. This provides adequate confining stress to prevent swelling and leakage at the GCL panel overlaps.

Is “Premature Hydration” of geo-synthetic clay liners (GCL) a concern when considering its use?

Premature hydration is an extremely common occurrence. The term “premature” is used because of excessive hydration which is only a concern when the GCL is uncovered. Once a modest confining cover (12 inches of soil/rock) is applied over the GCL, the bentonite cannot exert enough swelling force to delaminate the product, nor can it absorb enough water to become overly plastic. Years ago, specifiers included provisions requiring the removal and replacement of all GCL that was hydrated before being covered. Removal and replacement may not be necessary if the following visual evidence of damage is not witnessed:

  1. The geotextile has been separated, torn, or otherwise damaged.
  2. There is evidence that the needle punching between the geotextiles has been compromised.
  3. The GCL has deep indentations when walked upon.
  4. The overlapped seams are not intact.

If any of the above damage is found, the GCL should be replaced. Such instances are rare and usually occur as a result of prolonged hydration followed by direct vehicular contact.

Is it true that the vertical installation of C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel will not remain vertical due to frost heaves, rain and snow melt?

In over 9,000 installations, we have never encountered a situation where the movement of the Oil Filtration Panel with seasonal freeze/thaw cycles has been noted. As long as the substation pad is well prepared/compacted to provide consistent subgrade conditions, there should be limited differential movement due to frost heave or settlement. Also, the C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panel is fully supported by aggregate of equal depths/heights on each side.

What can be done to minimize the potential impacts from hydration/dehydration cycling and ion exchange on the performance of a GCL as a hydraulic barrier?
  1. Use a GCL with a flexible membrane liner laminated to one side and install the GCL with the laminated side facing up. The membrane liner helps protect the bentonite from ion exchange and is itself essentially impermeable.
  2. Install an additional layer of protective, non-woven geotextile over the GCL. The additional layoff of non-woven geotextile physically protects the GCL from damage and helps retain moisture in the liner system.
  3. Require a minimum of 12 inches of aggregate cover to physically protect the GCL from damage and help retain moisture during periods of dry weather.

I’m seeing another product on the market that seems very similar to C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel. They say they provide “some measure” of SPCC compliance. I’m confused.

The old saying is imitation is the most sincere source of flattery. In this scenario, we are not flattered. We have a ten-year history of successful deployment and a client list that can’t be matched. Our C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panels provide 100% SPCC compliance and we have an insurance policy to back our claims. We are a solutions leader that works with a utility company’s PE to customize a secondary containment plan that will best meet their needs; the mentality of “one size fits all” does not exist here. Now with ‘a new kid on the block’ we can’t say we are the cheapest containment in town…but we can say, “You get what you pay for.”

I heard you take 2-4 weeks for deliver of your C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel Containment Systems.

We are a custom solutions company and we manufacture to our customer’s exact engineered specifications. We can also customize ours with a flap on the Oil Filtration Panel to work even better in certain situations. The mentality of ‘One size fits all’ does not hold oil with us.

Does C.I.Agent Solutions take credit cards?

Yes, we accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.


Additional Technical Questions:

We are in need of an agent which, apart from solidifying the hydrocarbon, can reduce its inflammability to the lowest possible level or make it non-inflammable. Does your C.I.Agent meet that requirement?

One of the many advantages of our product is that it contains the hydrocarbon liquid without allowing a significant flammable vapor zone to form. Thus, by encapsulating the hydrocarbon liquid in its matrix, C.I.Agent Polymers also act as an efficient vapor suppressant. Tests have concluded that the vapor suppression capabilities of the polymer using diesel and gasoline and there was a notable reduction in the concentration of VOCs about 80 and 70 percent respectively. This decrease in concentration of VOCs was within five minutes of polymer application on the hydrocarbon liquids.

How flammable is the solidified product?

Because you can still smell gasoline with a solidified product, the gasoline that is present in free form would ignite at the flash point. However, the quantity of free, vaporized gasoline is extremely small. You could compare the solidified gasoline to a wick in a lantern. The wick allows the fuel to be introduced slowly to an existing flame. Solidified gasoline would act the same way, although it is likely that solidified gasoline would not sustain a flame since the solidifier effectively captures the gasoline and would release it at an extremely slow rate, much slower than a wick in a lantern. Obviously, the entire solidified product would ignite at the flash point of the solidifier, but that number is much higher and it is unlikely that you would sustain a flame in most circumstances. If you placed the solidified product in a furnace, both components would eventually combust, but the process would be slow. From a positioning point of view, the air and the solidifier compete for the gasoline and the competition holds down the amount of gasoline that can vaporize.

What effect do your Geomembrane Liner have on “step potential” of the ground grid within a substation?

The C.I.Agent® Geomembrane liner should not have any impact, positive or negative, on step potentials within a substation. The ground grid passes around the liner and thus is not impacted by it, so the step potential remains the same regardless of if there is a liner. Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City, MO.