Argonne Scientists invent the revolutionary oil-spill sponge


Most non-tree huggers aren’t really familiar with the situation of our oceans on an annual basis, there is a huge crisis concerning our ocean water and for years, scientists have been trying to find an innovative way of cleaning up oil spills.

There are about 1.3 million gallons of petroleum is spilled into the ocean annually, this also includes a number of many other sources such as land drainage and waste disposal or improper disposal of used motor oil. A lot of you may be thinking, why is it so important to have a way to clean up the oil spills, and to answer your question. It’s simple, the long term effects on the oceanic Eco-system, wherein the immediate food chain of which fish and sea creatures depend on would diminish, affecting commercial fishing permanently. We have already started to see some of the effects on our coastal shores, the fishing sector in South Africa, which estimated to be worth R7 Billion, which directly employs 27 000 people.

“Half of the commercially exploited fish stocks in SA are overexploited and in decline” reported by Parliament in November 2016. According to the report of the 49 fish stock assessed 50% of them are in trouble. “ With the current amount of oil spills, combined with the rate of illegal harvesting of our oceans Parliament warns that “Assessments indicate that the resource continues to decline … projections show that the resource will continue to decline at the current rate of harvesting.”

However scientists have now developed a new sponge called the Oleo Sponge, to directly combat and manage oil spills without the use of any evasive chemicals.

How it works:
The Oleo Sponge is a reusable sponge; the material is able to absorb oil from water and can also pull dispersed oil from the entire water column. “Previously, Darling and fellow Argonne chemist Jeff Elam had developed a technique called sequential infiltration synthesis, or SIS, which can be used to infuse hard metal oxide atoms within complicated nano-structures.” Through numerous trials, they were finally adapted a technique to grow a thin layer of metal oxide “primer” near the foams interior surface.