Scientists have invented a new foam which could be used to help mop up serious oil spills, like that caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Roselle Chen reports.
The Oleo Sponge can soak up oil in water super quick. It could one day help clean up major spills like the one at Deepwater Horizon seven years ago. Developed at Argonne National Laboratory, it's made of a polyurethane foam like that used in mattresses. The foam's interior surfaces are covered with oleophilic, or oil-attracted, molecules that draw oil from the water. The material can be wrung out in order to be reused. It was tested inside this giant seawater tank in New Jersey, catching diesel and crude oil both below and on the water surface. The sponge could be used to clean harbors and ports, where diesel and oil accumulate from ship traffic. And its potential to clean up oil spills is exciting scientists. The rig explosion at Deepwater Horizon was the worst offshore oil disaster in U.S. history. 11 workers died and the spill spewed oil onto shorelines for months.