An oil spill that occurs in the sea or ocean presents huge challenges when it comes to cleaning the affected area.
A group of researchers from Argone National Laboratory has managed to create an oleo sponge that collects oil from water so that an oil spill would not be a problem anymore.
The oleo sponge is created from a foam with the interior covered with oleophillic surfaces that attract oil from water.
The great challenge was a way to “stick” the molecules within the oleo sponge, but, researchers managed to insert nano structures into a metaloxide.
The sponge can absorb up to 90 times its own weight, and after use, it can be squeezed.
In some cases, the oil can be reused.
Researchers are now trying to sell the material through licensing or collaboration agreements, and it could be commercially available in less than five years, as we have been informed.
The oleo sponge has been extensively tested in a research reservoir with saltwater in New Jersey, where it managed to absorb both crude and diesel oil, whether the substance is on the surface or at depth.
Seth Derling, the co-inventor of the oleo sponge and researcher at Argone’s Center for NanoscaleMaterials, said that “the material is extremely durable. It has been tested hundreds of times and squeezed it each time. It still not shows any sign of frazzle.”
The biggest problem when it comes to an oil spill is the substance that reaches below the water surface.
The oil collected from the surface can be a relatively easy task, but the water below presents much greater challenges.