IISER Kerala scientists develop wood-pulp balls to clean oil spills


New Delhi: IISER Kerala scientists have found an inexpensive and efficient way to clean up marine oil spills by using marble-sized balls made of wood pulp.

Current methods of cleaning up oil spills include on-site burning, which does not efficiently remove the oil, researchers said. Moreover, there is no way to recover the spilt crude oil.

The gelator repels water and only absorbs the oil. It congeals the absorbed oil, which could be recovered by applying pressure or through distillation.

Each cellulose ball can absorb oil 16 times its own weight. After the oil is recovered, the left-over pulp can be recycled, according to reports.

The researchers, including Annamalai Prathap from IISER Kerala, have filed a patent for their product in India and are planning to file international patents soon.

All crude oils were instantaneously absorbed by the material, researchers said.

Marine oil spill is one of the common disasters worldwide, which has long-lasting, negative impacts for economy and the environment. Apart from leading to huge economic losses, such accidents affect the flora and fauna.

There is a lot of interest in developing methods to recoup the oil from such spills. Researchers from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Kerala wanted to look for methods that can both clean the water as well as recover the precious spilt oil.

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