Polysulfide Cubes as Sponges for Oil Spill Cleanup

A collaboration between Flinders University and Clean Earth Technologies will result in a manufacturing facility in South Australia to produce commercial quantities of the absorbent polysulfide, The Lead South Australia reported.

The sponge-like polymer was developed by an international team headed by Flinders University Associate Professor Justin Chalker and can be made of waste cooking oil from fast-food outlets and sulphur, a byproduct of the petroleum industry.

The product is hydrophobic, meaning that it separates from water and binds well to oil. The polymer absorbs oil much like a sponge, forming a gel that can be scooped out of the water.

Porous polymer cubes can soak up two to three times their weight in oil or diesel and are reusable. The recovered oil can be squeezed from the polymer like water from a sponge, and the oil can be reused.

When still in its early stage of development, Chalker described the product as a new class of oil sorbent that is low-cost, scalable and enables the efficient removal and recovery of oil from water.

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