Boron/Carbon Nanosponges Used to Absorb Oil from Water
April 17, 2012 12:04 PM
comment(s) - last by
The nanosponges can be reused as well
Rice University and Penn State University researchers have collaborated to create a sponge capable of
soaking up oil spilled in water
, which could have a profound impact on the environment.
Daniel Hashim, study leader and graduate student at Rice University, along with Pulickel Ajayan, professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Rice University, and Mauricio Terrones, professor of physics, materials science and engineering at Penn State University, are all responsible for the latest creation.
According to the research team, the sponges are made of nanotubes that had a bit of the chemical element boron added to the carbon. By adding boron to the carbon, the nanotubes turned into solid, yet spongy blocks.
Boron is the main secret ingredient behind the nanosponges. By adding boron, the nanotubes grew bends and "elbows" to help produce covalent bonds, which allow the nanosponges to perform the way they do. The sponges are 99 percent air, can be manipulated using magnets, and conduct electricity. They're also superhydrophobic, meaning they float better because they dislike water, and oleophilic, meaning they're attracted to oil.
These nanosponges are
capable of soaking up oil
and being reused after doing so. According to the team, the nanosponges can undergo about 10,000 compressions where oil is soaked into the sponge, burned off, and returned to the water to soak more. Also, the sponges can hold more than a hundred times their weight in oil.
Nanosponge with boron [Source: Rice University]
"Our goal was to find a way to make three-dimensional networks of these carbon nanotubes that would form a macroscale fabric — a spongy block of nanotubes that would be big and thick enough to be used to clean up oil spills and to perform other tasks,” said Terrones. “We realized that the trick was adding boron — a chemical element next to carbon on the periodic table — because boron helps to trigger the interconnections of the material. To add the boron, we used very high temperatures and we then ‘knitted’ the substance into the nanotube fabric.
"Oil-spill remediation and environmental cleanup are just the beginning of how useful these new nanotube materials could be. For example, we could use these materials to make more efficient and lighter batteries. We could use them as scaffolds for bone-tissue regeneration. We even could impregnate the nanotube sponge with polymers to fabricate robust and light composites for the automobile and plane industries.”
Such nanosponges could come in handy one day for major spills, such as the BP oil spill that occurred in April 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and leaked oil into the Gulf of Mexico for three months. It was described as the
"worst spill in U.S. history."
This also isn't the first nanosponge to be used for absorbing oil. In early 2010, Dr. Paul Edmiston of the College of Wooster in Ohio created
a glass nanosponge
capable of removing oil from water.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
4/21/2012 9:35:19 PM
Almost right.. "collect the stuff with the oil inside, and then"... squeeze the oil out of it (to still sell the oil to you) and re-use it 9999 more times!!
Also, although being or not biodegradable is a fair concern, it is supposed to be easy to pick up / collect it. So it isn't hard to find either some way to transform it or place it where no harm is done (or less than the oil in the water).
"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
Report Released by BP Reveals Causes of Gulf Oil Spill
September 8, 2010, 6:29 PM
X Prize Looks to Clean up BP's Messy Oil Spill
July 28, 2010, 9:14 AM
Gulf Oil Spill Likely to be Worst Spill in U.S. History, Raises Call For Nuclear
May 1, 2010, 10:55 PM
Scientist Invents Glass Nanosponge to Remove Oil Sludge from Water
January 14, 2010, 12:34 AM
Texas Chosen as Site for SpaceX's First Commercial Launchpad
August 5, 2014, 1:44 PM
South Carolina Prison Finds Crashed Drone Carrying Drugs, Phones
August 1, 2014, 2:49 PM
NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Gains Seven New Instruments for Exploration
August 1, 2014, 1:30 PM
NASA Opportunity Rover Breaks Record for Most Miles Traveled on Another Planet
July 29, 2014, 1:38 PM
Commercial Drones to Get Privacy Guidelines Via Executive Order
July 25, 2014, 5:34 PM
Pentagon's Priciest Project, F-35, Misses International Debut
July 25, 2014, 10:18 AM
Most Popular Articles
Lumia 830 Gets Major Upgrades Including New 20.1 Megapixel Toshiba Sensor
August 15, 2014, 6:00 PM
Windows Phone, BlackBerry Smartphone Market Share Falls to 2.5%, 0.5% Respectively
August 15, 2014, 9:44 AM
GM Concedes That the Cadillac ELR Doesn’t Really Compete with the Tesla Model S
August 15, 2014, 5:42 PM
Cell Phone Thief Calls 911 After Her Victim Chases Her and Her Male Cohort
August 14, 2014, 12:11 PM
Smarter Wired, Wireless Chargers Set to Shake Up Mobile Industry
August 14, 2014, 6:39 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information