Mark Lopez/Argonne National Laboratory
A group of researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory have developed a sponge that will collect oil from bodies of water, which could improve how harbors and ports are cleaned, as well as how oil spills are managed.
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.
from Oleo sponge invented at Argonne National Laboratory can sop up oil in a spill