New material to soak up oil spills?

Apr 30, 2013
An employee places a barrier following an oil spill from a pipeline, in Chinacota on December 11, 2011. Scientists said Tuesday they had manufactured a lightweight and reusable material that can absorb up to 33 times its weight in certain chemicals—a possible new tool against water pollution.

Scientists said Tuesday they had manufactured a lightweight and reusable material that can absorb up to 33 times its weight in certain chemicals—a possible new tool against water pollution.

The team made nanosheets of , also called white graphene, that were able to soak up a wide range of spilt oils, and dyes such as those discharged by the textile, paper and tannery industries.

Highly porous, the sheets have a , can float on water and are water-repellent, the team from France and Australia wrote in the journal Nature Communications.

Once the white sheets are dropped on an oil-polluted water surface "they immediately absorb the brown oil and become dark brown," they wrote.

"This process is very fast; after just 2 minutes, all oil has been taken up by the nanosheets."

Once saturated, the sheets can be easily picked up from the water surface and cleaned by burning, heating or washing to be reused several times.

Materials such as activated carbon or natural fibres commonly used to counter spills generally have a much lower absorption than their newly-created material, the authors wrote.

Other materials with high absorption have been manufactured—but proved difficult to recycle.

"The new material and related technology will have (an) important impact on environmental protection," study co-author Ian Chen of Australia's Deakin University told AFP by email.

And he added: "they are not expensive".

Nanostructured materials like white are composed of structural elements, clusters of atoms, of between one and 100 nanometres (a billionth of a metre) big.

Explore further: Microfluidics and nanofluidics research provide inexpensive ways to analyze blood and filter water (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Holey' Nanosheets for Wastewater Dye Removal

Jul 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have discovered that extremely thin sheets of nickel oxide with hexagonally shaped holes can absorb hazardous dyes from wastewater nearly as well as the best traditional methods, but are recyclable. ...

Frustration inspires new form of graphene

Oct 14, 2011

They're the building block of graphite – ultra-thin sheets of carbon, just one atom thick, whose discovery was lauded in 2010 with a Nobel Prize in Physics.

New materials invention for oil spill clean-up

Jan 12, 2011

The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was not the largest in history nor will it be the last, according to T.C. (Mike) Chung, professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State. But a recent ...

Nanosponges soak up oil again and again

Apr 16, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Researchers at Rice University and Penn State University have discovered that adding a dash of boron to carbon while creating nanotubes turns them into solid, spongy, reusable blocks that have ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0