Oleo Sponge Can Sop up Oil in a Spill

Megas Geuss – Ars Technica:

The Oleo Sponge is made of a polyurethane foam whose interior surfaces are covered with oleophilic molecules that draw oil out of water. The challenge, according to Argonne, was finding a way to “glue” those oil-loving molecules to the sponge’s interior. That issue was tackled with the help of 2011 research from Argonne scientists, who were able to infuse metal oxide with nanostructures. The Oleo creators used that technique to develop a primer for the interior of the sponge that the oleophilic molecules stick to. The result is a sponge that can adsorb up to 90 times its weight in oil.

After use, the sponge can be wrung out and the oil can even be reclaimed in some cases.

The test article has been used several times over, with no breakdown in the polyurethane membrane. What a terrific invention.

I wonder what they’d recover dragging it across the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the destroyed Deepwater Horizon rig’s spill plume. Only a small fraction of that disaster’s spilled oil was recovered from beaches and the water’s surface.

#oil #sponge #absorbant #reusable #oleo