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Oil

— Environment

One man’s (milk)weed is another’s natural solution to oil spills

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
— Environment

Handheld device detects and analyzes soil contamination within seconds

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
— Environment

Sponges made from wood waste may soak up oil spills

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
— Science

Researchers convert plastic bags into a variety of petroleum products

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
— Environment

Magnetic nanosponges more effective at soaking up spills

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
— Environment

DIFIS funnels up oil spills

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
— Science

UAVs are searching for 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
— Environment

MIT researchers devise technique to clean up oil spills using magnets

Possibly the only good thing to come out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is the subsequent increase in research into finding more effective ways to clean up oil spills, including such initiatives as the X PRIZE Foundation's Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. Joining the list is a new method devised by researchers at MIT who propose separating oil and water using magnets. The new technique would allow the oil to be recovered to help offset the costs of the cleanup operation. Read More
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