Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created this new sponge-like material called Aerogel that they believe will be the future in cleaning oil spills. The aerogel that have specifically created works well with oil spills because it soaks in the oil but not the water. The scientists have already patented this technology.
This aerogel seems really great because it allows the user to soak up the oil and squeeze it out. It also can be reused multiple times though it’s efficiency decreases per use. It can soak up 100 times its volume and over all it seems like a pretty environmentally friendly method to clean up oil spills. It also is created in a way that is less environmentally detrimental than other types of aerogel because it doesn’t depend on solvents.
There’s a video that shows how the aerogel actually works: http://vimeo.com/83866048
It shows how the aerogel doesn’t soak up water but soaks up gasoline. The aerogel works really quickly as you see it soak up all of the red dyed diesel in the water leaving the water looking clear.
This new technology still needs to be tested on a longer scale but it currently looks really promising and could make cleaning up oil spills a much faster and easier way than current methods. This new finding is really significant because past methods used to also soak up water so the fact that this aerogel is repelling the water but still soaking in the gasoline is a big deal in oil spill cleaning technology.