Researchers at Argonne National Lab, based in the United States, have developed a reusable ‘sponge’ material designed to absorb 90 times its weight in oil.
Researchers anticipate that the ‘sponge’ could be used to clean up oil spills more cost efficiently and quicker than previous materials used.
Currently, oil spills are cleaned using a variety of tools including the sorbent boom which can absorb anything from 3 to 70 times its weight in oil, depending on the material in which it is designed. Unfortunately the sorbent boom can only be used once. In addition to this, for substantial oil spills, a large amount of the material is needed.
In comparison, the ‘sponge’, designed from a polyurethane foam coated in silane, is not only more absorbent than other materials, it also has the ability to be reused. In tests, the material could absorb 90 times its weight in oil before being wrung out and ready to use again. Such material could drastically lower clean up costs for future oil spills
The team is currently working on additional tests and refining the manufacturing process for large scale production.