Discovery could lead to new way of cleaning up oil spills

Jun 21, 2013 by Brian Murphy
Oil droplets bead on a submerged glass surface. UAlberta researchers developed a way to make the glass repel oil, a discovery that could lead to new technologies for cleaning up oil spills and preventing harm to marine ecosystems.

(Phys.org) —University of Alberta mechanical engineering researchers have shown that a simple glass surface can be made to repel oil underwater. This has huge implications for development of a chemical repellent technology for use in cleaning up oil spills.

At the time of spills, marine flora and fauna may come into contact with the oil, wreaking major damage. Underwater oil-repellent technology can potentially prevent the toxic effect of oil on marine ecosystems.

Lead U of A researcher Sushanta Mitra and his team members Prashant Waghmare and Siddhartha Das used surfactants, a key ingredient in soaps and detergents, as a way of making an underwater glass surface repel oil. The researchers propose that making use of this simple principle, large concentrations of surfactant can be added to oil-contaminated water, thereby ensuring that and animals exhibit similar oil-repellent characteristics and enabling them to overcome the deadly consequences of an oil spill.

Mitra says the most important step in demonstrating this property of surfactants is to ensure accurate deposition of an oil drop on the underwater glass surface. The U of A team came up with the first possible technique to reliably and controllably deposit oil drops on such underwater surfaces.

Mitra and his U of A team published two papers related to their findings. The technique related to the injection of oil on a surface beneath the water was published in the journal Soft Matter, a publication of the , and will appear as a cover article in the upcoming issue.

The research revealing the effect of surfactant in making an underwater extremely oil-repellent was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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User comments : 3

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Caliban
1 / 5 (6) Jun 21, 2013
Ridiculous for so many reasons, that I won't even bother to list them.

An oil spill's effects won't be much mitigated by injecting vast quantities of dish detergent into the marine environment.

Science for Retards.
broli
5 / 5 (1) Jun 21, 2013
Graphene has already shown how easy it is to absorb oil like a sponge, and consequently wring the oil out like a spongue allowing for an almost limitless reuse and near complete recovery of the crude oil. Graphene is also a non pollutant and easy to mass produce now a days. How is this not THE solution for oil clean ups, why are we still allowing very dangerous chemicals in oil cleanups? Look for "Superlight graphene framework gobbles up gasoline" and "Use of Graphene to clean Crude oil spill " on youtube.
Neinsense99
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 23, 2013
Ridiculous for so many reasons, that I won't even bother to list them.

An oil spill's effects won't be much mitigated by injecting vast quantities of dish detergent into the marine environment.

Science for Retards.

At least THEY are trying to solve a problem.

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