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Oil

ESA’s ‘Soret Coefficient in Crude Oil’ experiment will test diffusion effects in high-pres...

The European Space Agency is shipping crude oil into space. This may seem like a poor market strategy, but there's method behind this petroleum madness. The space agency is sending a set of small, highly-pressurized containers of crude oil into orbit as part of an experiment aimed at learning how oil behaves in deep underground reservoirs.  Read More

Milkweed seeds and fibers ready for propagating (Photo: Pollinator, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The humble milkweed may be a weed to most, but a company out of Granby, Quebec, is milking the plant for all it’s worth by developing a product for cleaning up oil slicks on land and water from milkweed fibers. Due to the fibers’ hollow shape – a unique feature in nature – and its naturally hydrophobic tendency, they repel water while absorbing more than four times more oil than the same amount of polypropylene materials currently used for spills.  Read More

RemScan puts a self-contained soil analyzer in your hand (Photo: ZilteK)

Contamination of soil from petroleum spills is an ongoing problem that threatens to adversely affect the environment and the health of the people in it, so rapid testing of sites is a pressing issue. However, with laboratory samples and results requiring at least a number of days turn around, particularly in remote locations, rapid analysis is not usually possible. RemScan is a self-contained, hand-held hydrocarbon contamination testing device designed to address this problem. Recently released on the US market, the device is capable of testing many hundred samples a day, providing data on the spot, within seconds, and completely without the need of a laboratory.  Read More

One of the modified nanocellulose sponges soaks up oil (red) while repelling water (blue)

As the Deepwater Horizon incident showed us, oil spills can be huge environmental disasters. That said, there are also considerable challenges in dealing with the waste products generated by the forestry and agriculture industries. Now, scientists from Switzerland's Empa research group have come up with a method of addressing the one problem with the other – they've developed sponges made from cellulose waste, that can soak up 50 times their own weight in oil.  Read More

Brajendra Kumar Sharma, center, with research chemist Dheeptha Murali, left, and process c...

Despite efforts to limit their use through implementation of charges or bans, billions of plastic bags continue to clog landfills, waterways and the world's oceans every year. Already a potential source for carbon fiber and carbon nanotubes, researchers have provided another reason not to throw the ubiquitous bags away by converting them into a range of petroleum products.  Read More

A new type of carbon nanotube sponge containing sulfur and iron could help clean up oil sp...

A new type of carbon nanotube (CNT) sponge that contains sulfur and iron has been developed and is proving to be more effective at soaking up water contaminants, such as oil, fertilizers, pesticides and pharmaceuticals, than previously seen. The magnetic properties of these nanosponges also make them easier to retrieve from the environment once the clean-up job is done.  Read More

Cactus needles draw moisture to the plant, just like the new material draws in oil droplet...

When an oil spill occurs at sea, there are already a number of possible options for gathering the oil that floats in a layer on the water’s surface. Some of the oil also forms into tiny suspended droplets, however, which have proven much more difficult to gather. Now, Chinese scientists have developed what could be a solution – and it owes a debt to the humble cactus needle.  Read More

The DIFIS system dome deployed

When ships sink, as well as the loss of property (and very possibly life), there’s the danger of environmental damage. An oil tanker breaking up is a disaster, but even a cargo ship going down can mean oil leaking from fuel bunkers. Double Inverted Funnel for Intervention on Shipwrecks (DIFIS) is an EU project coordinated by Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) that uses a passive system to catch oil as it leaks out of a wreck on the ocean floor.  Read More

UAV helicopter used to hunt oil in Norway

Like an army, science needs the high ground. This is true when it comes to oil exploration and especially so in the rugged landscape of Norway. The Virtual Outcrop Geology (VOG) group at the Norwegian Centre for integrated petroleum research (CIPR) is working to capture this vantage point in a distinctly 21st century way, by using UAVs to seek out oil by helping geologists build 3D models of the terrain.  Read More

A newly-developed polymer might find use in the clean-up of oil spills  (Photo: Shuttersto...

As the Deepwater Horizon disaster showed us, we need to develop better ways of cleaning up oil spills. While many ideas have been put forth, scientists from Pennsylvania State University have come up with something that particularly shows promise – a polymer that soaks up 40 times its weight in oil.  Read More

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