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04 Oct 2012: New Cleanup Method Offers
Major Solution to Oil Spills, Study Claims

Scientists have developed a superabsorbent material they say offers a cost-effective way to remove, recover and clean up large oil spills. Writing in the journal Energy & Fuels, Pennsylvania State

Click to enlarge
Oil Spill Cleanup Method

NASA
The oil-SAP technology
University researchers Xuepei Yuan and T. C. Mike Chung describe a polymer material that they say can absorb 40 times its own weight in oil, transforming spilled material into a solid, oil-containing gel that is strong enough to be collected and transported to oil refineries for reprocessing. While many of the methods typically used to clean up oil spills — including booms, skimmers, burning, and the use of dispersants — waste most of the spilled oil and leave behind significant levels of environmental pollution, the scientists say their so-called polyolefin oil-SAP technology offers a potentially “complete solution” to dealing with oil spills. They say the material does not absorb water, is buoyant, and is relatively inexpensive. “Overall, this cost-effective new polyolefin oil-SAP technology shall dramatically reduce the environmental impacts from oil spills and help recover one of our most precious natural resources,” the authors wrote.

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