A more efficient method of removing oil from seabirds' feathers has been invented using a magnetic-cleansing technology devised by scientists at Victoria University. The kit consists of a 'portable lap mat' that provides a workspace and houses the cleaning agents required, and a 'magnetic tester' that removes the oil from the birds feathers safely and efficiently. Designed for use at the site of an oil spill, the lap map is to be made from a recycled tyre compound and coated provide petroleum resistance and increase lifespan. The edges of the mat can be clipped together to form a "bowl" where the bird can be more easily contained whilst operating and the design of the magnetic tester has been improved to allow one-handed operation.

The active component of the Seabird cleaning kit is the rare-earth iron-boron magnet contained in the magnetic tester. The tester can also be used to safely apply the iron powder that must be applied to the bird as part of the cleaning process, reducing the risk of injury to the birds compared with previous "spray-on" methods.

The cleaning kit is another innovation to emerge from the 2002 Australian Design Awards - read more about the brightest and best local ideas and inventions from the Awards in the next Print Issue of Gizmo.