'Oleo Sponge' Soaks Up Oil Plumes from Bodies of Water

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill several years ago, millions of gallons of oil were not collecting on the surface where it could be skimmed - some of it formed a plume and drifted through the ocean under the surface. Now, Argonne National Laboratory scientists have invented a reusable foam, called 'Oleo Sponge,' that easily absorbs oil from water and can pull dispersed oil from the entire water column - not just the surface. The scientists grew an extremely thin layer of metal oxide 'primer' near the foam's interior surfaces. This serves as a glue for attaching oil-loving molecules, which are deposited in a second step - they hold onto the metal oxide layer with one end and grab oil molecules with the other.

Energy Materials