Nano cleans up oil spills

oil-spill.jpgJenna:  MIT researchers have created a nanowire membrane that could be used to clean up oil spills. The membrane is no thinker than a piece of paper and is made from a web of potassium manganese oxide nanowires. When dipped into a mixture of water and oil, the membrane can absorb 20 times its weight in oil.

Typically, oil spills are cleaned up using the same basic technology used 20 years ago, using absorbent materials such as hay and cellulose that can soak up between 3 and 15 times their weight in oil, or synthetic polymer-based sorbents can absorb up to 70 times their weight. The problem with these materials is that they also absorb water. The nanomembrane however, is superhydrophobic, which means it strongly repels water. Therefore, when applied to an oil spill, say in an ocean situation, the nanomembrane will discriminately soak up the oil and not the water.

Originally published on Blog@NanoVic for Nanotechnology Victoria.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: