The Superabsorbent Nanosponge That Only Soaks Up Oil (100x Its Own Weight!)

By Sarah Zhang | April 18, 2012 7:37 am

Using carbon nanotubes and a dash of boron, scientists at Rice University have created a sponge that only absorbs oil. The superabsorbent sponge may not be of much use in the kitchen, but selective sucking of oil could be very helpful in cleaning up oil spills in the ocean. Other perks: the nanosponge is attracted to magnets, so that’s they’re easily controlled, and they’re reusable. At the end of this video, grad student Daniel Hashim shows how to extract energy from the oil-soaked nanosponge by burning it. Then you’re left with just the nanosponge, all ready to absorb oil again.

[via SciAm]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology
  • floodmouse

    This is brilliant, and it will have other commercial applications besides cleaning up oil spills. I can’t tell you how many work accidents happen because of oil on the floor that is not adequately soaked up by the existing mats. This technology would not only prevent accidents but also allow the recovery & use of oil that would otherwise be wasted.

  • Paul

    I wonder if this could be useful in a microwave sail. Benford and coworkers used carbon aerogels as very lightweight microwave absorbers that could be levitated by photon pressure; maybe this material could be made even thinner.

  • lololol

    World’s most water resistant jacket anybody? :D

  • http://scorpbeats.com JackBerg

    Good video

  • Cathy

    Waaaaaay better than Corexit.

  • Wil

    Hey Professor! Look what I just dug out of my ear!

  • lou

    This is incredible, an ingenious development

  • Matt

    Too bad we didn’t have this during the Deepwater Horizon fiasco…but hopefully this material will help clean up the next major oil spill.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »