Environmental bridge over troubled waters

May 08, 2013
Environmental bridge over troubled waters

A breakthrough innovation designed to purify water through the rapid removal of oily pollutants, could have major environmental benefits in agriculture and manufacturing industries.

The application, developed at the School of Engineering in collaboration with the Mawson Institute, involves the deployment of surface engineered silica particles, which act as oil magnets in , adsorbing oil, yet repelling water.

The use of the technology can enable the removal of motor oil, crude oil, petrol or kerosene in just a few minutes.

Professor Peter Majewski, head of the school of engineering, who lead the research, outlined the practical benefits of the technology, which could revolutionise the treatment of at sea, , and rivers.

"Oils are among the major pollutants in drinking water reservoirs," he says.

"Contamination may occur through natural spills, cracked pipe lines and run off of oil from land-based sources. The toxic effects of these pollutants can lead to conditions including narcosis and cancer.

"By applying plasma polymerisation technology to develop surface engineered silica particles for oil removal, these adsorbents can remove more than 99.9 per cent of the oil from both fresh and sea waters.

"Sprinkling the silica particles onto an oil spill would result in the binding itself to the particles and falling to the ocean floor, where it could then be collected and removed.

"The use of the silica particles in small quantities, such as in filters for farms could aid water purification in remote and rural communities. In large quantities filters for industrial outlets could help in the treatment of waste water.

"As the is based on silica particles or simple quartz sand, it is very easy to use, store, and transport. In addition, it can be used in already existing conventional .

"It's at early stage but we are now looking to develop the water treatment technology with industry partners, through UniSA's technology commercialisation company, ITEK."

Explore further: Creative adaptation of a quadcopter

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A complete solution for oil-spill cleanup

Oct 03, 2012

Scientists are describing what may be a "complete solution" to cleaning up oil spills—a superabsorbent material that sops up 40 times its own weight in oil and then can be shipped to an oil refinery and processed to recover ...

First 'microsubmarines' designed to help clean up oil spills

May 02, 2012

Scientists are reporting development and successful testing of the first self-propelled "microsubmarines" designed to pick up droplets of oil from contaminated waters and transport them to collection facilities. The report ...

Defying conventional wisdom, water can float on oil

Apr 04, 2012

Defying thousands of years of conventional wisdom, scientists are reporting that it is possible for water to float on oil, a discovery they say has important potential applications in cleaning up oil spills ...

Recommended for you

Tesla says decision on battery factory months away

Aug 01, 2014

(AP)—Electric car maker Tesla Motors said Thursday that it is preparing a site near Reno, Nevada, as a possible location for its new battery factory, but is still evaluating other sites.

Comfortable climate indoors with porous glass

Jul 31, 2014

Proper humidity and temperature play a key role in indoor climate. In the future, establishing a comfortable indoor environment may rely on porous glass incorporated into plaster, as this regulates moisture ...

Crash-testing rivets

Jul 31, 2014

Rivets have to reliably hold the chassis of an automobile together – even if there is a crash. Previously, it was difficult to predict with great precision how much load they could tolerate. A more advanced ...

Customized surface inspection

Jul 31, 2014

The quality control of component surfaces is a complex undertaking. Researchers have engineered a high-precision modular inspection system that can be adapted on a customer-specific basis and integrated into ...

User comments : 0