Aerogel, the amazing material that is 37 times better than fiberglass as insulation, could also be the perfect tool for cleaning up oil spills. The downside is that Aerogel isn't ready for the large-scale production necessary to help with the current oil disaster.
The material is incredibly low density - it's mostly air - so it has the capacity to absorb a lot of oil. The maker of Aerogel, AeroClay, is beginning testing on an Aerogel sponge that could be made to soak up either water or oil. By modifying the polymers that keep the material from collapsing, scientists can program the sponge to absorb different liquids or particles. Aerogel has been used by NASA in the past to capture comet dust.
In the case of an oil spill, the sponge could be used like a dish sponge to clean oil off birds or rocks, or, even better, be deployed to keep oil from ever reaching the shore.
Although we hope that a major oil spill like the one in the Gulf of Mexico never happens again, it's good to know that technology is being developed to make us better prepared if it does.
written by James Pidhurney, May 14, 2010
written by Charlotte Roofing Contractor, February 09, 2012
written by Oil tester, July 06, 2012
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