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Oil


— Environment

Edible dispersant could provide more eco-friendly way to fight oil spills

Some people believe that there’s no problem that peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream can’t solve. These people could be onto something with news that a team of researchers has developed a new, safer oil dispersant that uses edible ingredients found in the aforementioned trio of treats. The new dispersant could save the lives of thousands of birds and animals caught in environmental catastrophes. Read More

Glycerol additive makes cruise ships greener

The bunker fuel used in cruise liners and freighters is some of the cheapest, crudest fuel available. It’s also among the dirtiest. Scientists from the Maine Maritime Academy and SeaChange Group LLC led by George N. Harakas, Ph.D announced at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society that they have developed what they call "Bunker Green" fuel. This fuel uses an ingredient commonly used in food and medicine to reduce sulfur and other emissions in ocean vessels. Read More

Soybean oil could make for longer-lasting, greener tires

It’s good for the environment when manufacturers can find ways of using less fossil fuels, while consumers – along with the environment – benefit when products last longer. Now, thanks to the humble soybean, both parties may be able to get what they need. Researchers from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company have discovered that soybean oil can help reduce the amount of petroleum used in tires, while also extending those tires’ tread life. Read More
— Science

Genetically engineered safflower plant improves oil output for industry

The safflower plant is one of the oldest crops known to man. Used by the ancient Egyptians in dyes, oils derived from safflower seeds are today used as a sustainable replacement for fossil-fuel-derived oil in a wide variety of products and industrial processes. Researchers at Australia’s CSIRO have now developed a new “super-high” oleic safflower that could make the crop even more attractive to growers and industry. Read More
— Science

Reusable oil-absorbing nanosponges could soak up oil spills

Last week we looked at the development of “hydrate-phobic” surfaces that could assist in the containment of oil leaks in deep water. Now, by adding boron to carbon while growing nanotubes, researchers have developed a nanosponge with the ability to absorb oil spilled in water. Remarkably, the material is able to achieve this feat repeatedly and is also electrically conductive and can be manipulated with magnets. Read More
— Science

“Hydrate-phobic” surface coatings to keep oil and gas pipes flowing

As the world’s appetite for oil and gas continues to increase while access to easily accessible reserves decreases, deep-sea oil and gas wells are being positioned in ever-deeper waters. The dangers and difficulties faced in such operations were highlighted in 2010 with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. While placing a containment dome over a leak and piping the oil to a surface storage vessel had worked on leaks in shallower water, the attempt to do the same on the Deepwater Horizon’s largest leak failed when the formation of methane hydrate crystals blocked the opening at the top of the dome. Now researchers at MIT have developed surface coatings that can inhibit the buildup of these methane hydrates and keep the gas and oil flowing. Read More
— Environment

New magnetic soap could be used to clean up oil spills

When oil gets spilled in a waterway, clean-up crews will often introduce a solution known as a surfactant. This is a detergent that lessens the surface tension between the water and the overlaying oil slick, causing the oil to form into individual droplets which then sink or get dispersed by wave action. Unfortunately, such detergents aren’t entirely environmentally-friendly themselves, so the use of them on oil spills has been criticized as simply replacing one pollutant with another. Now, however, scientists from the University of Bristol have created a magnetic soap, that could be removed from the water once it had done its job. Read More
— Environment

Winners announced for Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

Last July, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the X PRIZE Foundation launched the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. As with previous X PRIZE competitions, this one was intended to encourage private sector scientific research, by offering a cash prize to whichever team could best meet a given challenge. In this case, teams had to demonstrate a system of their own making, that could recover oil from a sea water surface at the highest Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) above 2,500 US gallons (9,463.5 liters) per minute, with an Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE) of greater than 70 percent. Today, the winning teams were announced. Read More
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