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Emerging advanced ceramic materials may find use in future oil spills

Nanotube oil sponge

Nanotube oil sponge

I am writing this post from the Tampa Bay area where the spreading Gulf of Mexico oil spill, not surprisingly, dominates the news. Several acquaintances here have asked me if there is anything in advanced ceramics and other novel materials that might be useful in future spills. Unfortunately, this is not an area I have any degree of expertise in, but we have had several posts in which the oil absorbency of a novel material was emphasized:

Aerogel’s potential to mop up oil spills

Nanogel, a branded aerogel made of modified, water-repellent silica, soaked up oil faster and in greater quantities than other materials that are typically used in wastewater filtration, according to a study published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. Boston-based Cabot Corp., which makes Nanogel, helped pay for the research and supplied the product.

Carbon nanotubes as super sponges

Chinese scientists say they have figured out a way to turn carbon nanotubes into a superabsorbing and reusable sponge for organic materials. They predict their CNT sponge material may be particularly valuable in applications such as oil spills on ocean, lake and river surfaces because the material won’t absorb water.

David Schiraldi’s Aeroclay

Aeroclay is a patented foamlike and environmentally friendly clay-based polymer. Aeroclay materials feel and act like foam, without injection of gas bubbles or environmentally unfriendly CFCs.