New FIlter for Oil Spills

You most likely know about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that is seemingly never-ending and assumed you’d never see it mentioned on a website about good news. Well, it turns out enterprising people from the University of Pittsburgh have used the spill to test out their new polymer-based filter that successfully cleans water.

Don’t forget that one way to prevent oil spills is to use less oil in your own life.

Here’s a video (might want to turn down you speakers):

And here’s a press release from the university:

Gao’s filter hinges on a polymer that is both hydrophilic-it bonds with the hydrogen molecules in water-and oleophobic, meaning that it repels oil. When the polymer is applied to an ordinary cotton filter, it allows water to pass through but not oil. The filter is produced by submerging the cotton in a liquid solution containing the polymer then drying it in an oven or in open air, Gao explained.

For the massive slick off the U.S. Gulf Coast, Gao envisions large, trough-shaped filters that could be dragged through the water to capture surface oil. The oil could be recovered and stored and the filter reused. Current cleanup methods range from giant containment booms and absorbent skimmers to controlled fires and chemical dispersants with questionable effects on human health and the environment.

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