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Oil


— Science

Genetically engineered safflower plant improves oil output for industry

By - June 24, 2012 2 Pictures
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

By - April 17, 2012 4 Pictures
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

By - April 11, 2012 1 Picture
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

By - January 24, 2012 2 Pictures
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

By - October 12, 2011 3 Pictures
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
— Environment

Finalists announced for Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

By - June 2, 2011 28 Pictures
If there was one thing that last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill showed us, it was that there were no particularly good systems in place for containing and removing such spills while the oil is still out at sea. One year later, although many companies and individuals have come forward with their concepts for such systems, little has actually been developed to the point of being ready for deployment. In order to generate some incentive, and provide financial support to the cream of the crop, the X PRIZE Foundation is now in the midst of its US$1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. Although the competition has been under way since January, the ten finalist teams were announced just last week. Read More
— Automotive

Lubricheck will let drivers know when their oil needs changing

By - May 10, 2011 2 Pictures
Imagine if every time you bought a pair of socks, you automatically threw them out after six months, regardless of their condition. While you would certainly always have newer socks, you would also likely end up throwing away quite a few pairs that could have lasted a while longer. When it comes to changing the oil in our vehicles, most of us do take the “every X miles” approach, however, as there’s no easy way of telling if that oil really needs to be changed ... or is there? The designers of Lubricheck claim that their device will save money and minimize discarded oil, by analyzing samples of engine oil and letting drivers know if it’s still good. Read More
— Environment

Liquid salt could help clean up tar sands

By - March 23, 2011 1 Picture
The United States imports approximately one million barrels of oil per day from Canada, which is about twice the amount that it gets from Saudi Arabia. A large percentage of that oil comes from tar sand deposits, in which bitumen (a tar-like form of crude oil) is found combined with sand. The tar sands – also known as oil sands – are hugely controversial, as many people state that the process used for extracting the oil from the sand is too ecologically-unfriendly. A new technique being pioneered at Penn State University, however, could drastically reduce the environmental impact of that process. Read More
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