New Absorbent for Oil Spills

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. There are several possible methods to remove the oil from the environment. A new absorbent has been proposed which is a polyolefin-based petroleum superabsorbent called PETROGEL that not only absorbs floating oil, but allows for its recovery and subsequent refining. When applied to a spill, PETROGEL immediately begins to absorb oil (but not water), and within 10 minutes will increase its weight by more than 10 times. Within 12 hours, Chung (Penn State researcher) says, it can absorb 40 times its own weight in oil. “The resultant solid mass will continue to float on the surface,” he says, “and can be scooped up from the water or shore.”

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