Canadian scientists’ develop revolutionary oil spill device

California oil spill

California oil spill

Tests show the technology can clean up nearly 100% of a spill

Oil spills are one of the most dreaded, detrimental events on the planet: BP estimated the clean-up costs of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon spill to be $62bn in 2016 – and researchers have found Americans would pay $17.2bn to prevent the same thing ever happening again, according to a press release.

A group of Canadian scientists from Ingenuity Lab, based in Alberta, Canada developed a unique and innovative solution to control and clean up oil spills.

The invention was recently awarded $1.7 million from Natural Resources Canada to speed up the project towards commercialization.

Led by Carlo Montemagno, director of Ingenuity Lab and leader of the project, they hope the groundbreaking technology can help alleviate concerns around the world.

The team at Ingenuity lab specializes in nanotechnology and have created a unique product to suck oil out of water.

It uses nanowire-based multi functional stimuli-responsive membranes and devices capable of recovering the oil from spills.

The device acts as a sponge, using a carbon-nanotube mesh that attracts and then soaks up oil from the water.

Once the oil has been soaked up, the mesh is removed from the water and targeted with ultraviolet light, heat or electricity, which help to expel the oil.

The lab’s tests show the technology can clean up nearly 100 per cent of a spill, meaning oil can then be reused.

Not only is this environmentally friendly, but also means spills may not be as financially devastating as they once were, as companies may be able to recover some of their resources.

“We were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the membrane a year ago. Now we are in the process of developing a system for producing it at a large scale,” said Montemagno.

The product has wide-ranging implications, according to Montemagno; it may be used in a number of industries where emulsions need to be separated out – such as the production of oil, food or nutraceuticals.

Using the funding, Ingenuity Labs will work on a preproduction pilot system to produce the material at scale. They want to start real-world field-testing in under two years’ time.

If this technology can be scaled to commercial use, it will be a game changer by reducing costs to the industry and environment.

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