Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S. have developed a nanopaper that could be used to clean up future oil spills.
The paper-like membrane repels water but can absorb up to 20 times it’s weight in oil. Even better, the oil can be recovered and the nanopaper can be recycled many times over.
Research leader, Francesco Stellacci, an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said:
Our material can be left in water a month or two, and when you take it out it’s still dry,
But at the same time, if that water contains some hydrophobic contaminants, they will get absorbed.
Oil spills can cause a devastating range of problems for wildlife - most of which lead to death. In fact, a single oil spill can kill thousands of sea birds and marine mammals.
At least 200,000 tons of oil has been spilled into the oceans since 2000, so if this nanotechnology results in faster clean ups, that’s welcome news for the natural environment.
Amazing stuff that nanotechnology!
Now, if only nanotechnology could be used to prevent oil spills altogether…