Researchers at Argonne National Lab have developed a ‘sponge’ that can absorb up to 90 times its weight in oil and can be reused up to 100 times. The researchers hope their tech can be used to clean up oil spills more quickly and cheaply.
(From Popular Mechanics/by Avery Thompson)– Oil spills are very tricky to clean up. There are a number of tools that cleanup crews can use to separate oil and water, but all are slow or expensive or both. One of the best ways to clean up spills is to use a floating absorbent material, called a sorbent boom, that soaks up oil. Depending on the material, sorbent booms can absorb anywhere between 3 and 70 times their weight in oil.
However, the main weakness of sorbent booms is that they can only be used once. As soon as they absorb enough oil they have to be removed from the water and disposed of elsewhere. This means that enormous quantities of sorbent material are required for very large spills.
The new material from Argonne National Lab is not only more absorbent than other materials, it also has the ability to be reused. In tests, the ‘oil sponge’ could absorb 90 times its weight in oil before being wrung out and ready to use again. Such a material could drastically lower cleanup costs for future oil spills.
Read the full article here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a25553/sponge-material-absorb-90-times-weight-in-oil/