Scientists have developed a new material containing soap like molecules, that they hope will help clean up the mess in the Gulf of Mexico. The substance can turn oil into a solid gel - and then back into oil by melting the gel, and then reused.
According to Discovery News, However, its developers haven't confirmed yet if it can be used on a large scale.
AdvertisementLarger scale experiments are needed to examine its safety, effectiveness and cost in a full-scale oil spill.
George John of the City College of New York and Srinivasa Raghavan of the University of Maryland developed the compound.
When the molecules hit water, the molecules create a sponge-like network of fibres that strongly attract oil and repel water.
The oil is drawn into the fibre network, swelling the "sponge" creating oil-swollen gel that's strong enough to be scooped up with a slotted spoon.
Another advantage is the light weight, so they can't sink to the bottom of the ocean. Also, the new material is made of non-toxic components used in food, John said.
Larger scale experiments are still necessary to determine how the material would behave outside the laboratory in a real spill situation, he said.