New system to clean oil spills

The Bharat Bhushan and Philip Brown teams of Ohio State University (Columbus city), have developed a new system to clean oil spills which is based on a net with a special nano coating that allows water to pass through and prevents oil to penetrate. This system could clean up oil spills in an affordable and very effective way without contaminating the area.

Bharat Bhushan and Philip Brown have developed a new system for cleaning oil spills (Photo by Jo McCulty).

Bharat Bhushan and Philip Brown have developed a new system to clean oil spills (Photo by Jo McCulty).

This project began over 10 years ago when Bhushan began to build and patent nanostructured coatings inspired by the leaves of the lotus leaf, whose surfaces naturally repel water but not oil. The Bhushan and Philip Brown team delved into the causes of this behavior and so managed to do just the opposite. From there, the team worked to amplify the effect and adjust it to different situations.

During the testing period, water was mixed with oil and the mixture was passed through one of these nets. Water was filtered and dropped into a beaker underneath, while oil was collected at the top of the net. Then, the oil was slipped easily into another glass simply by tilting the net.

The screen capture oil (red) as the water passes (blue) through it (Photograph by Jo McCulty).

The mesh capture oil (red) as the water passes (blue) through it (Photograph by Jo McCulty).

With much larger nets and manufactured in sufficient sizes, this new system can be a breakthrough in the efficient collection of oil spills and other discharges.

More information in Nature.com

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