|A new floating material that acts like a 'sponge' with the potential to
soak up oil spills has been developed by a team of researchers led by
Flinders University in Australia. The polymer is made from used cooking
oil and sulphur, a by-product of the petroleum industry, and can absorb
oil floating on the ocean's surface.
The researchers say the polymer can be added directly to the oil where
it aggregates and allows cleaners to scoop it up with a net. The polymer
can also be packed into a filter and pump the oil-water mixture through
it. The clean water is returned to the sea and the oil remains on the
The water-repelling properties of the polymer give it great potential to
be deployed in ocean clean-ups. Moreover, because of its sponge-like
properties, the material can be reused numerous times, the researchers
say. Because the material is made from waste products, it has the added
benefit of being relatively cheap to produce.