Despite our growing knowledge of the marine environment, cleaning up after an oil spill like the Refugio Oil Spill in California remains a major challenge for state and local authorities. Quick dispersion of the oily film is one part of the problem.
What if the oil could be made to sludgify, i.e. stick together, so removal becomes a far simpler process? According to researchers from the City College of New York (CCNY) it’s possible and all in the chemistry. Their eco-friendly solution, recently published in Science Advances, is essentially a bio-degradable plant molecule that reduces the surface tension of the water, causing the oil to aggregate. This idea is an innovation from silicone-based polymers currently in use. Read more about their work here.