It is estimated that 800 million liters of oil exploded in the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which caused the oil spill from historical proportions. The accident continues to be the largest ecological catastrophe of its kind in history.
The severe consequences for the marine ecosystem are also the very substance: because if a spill is poured into oil, it is very difficult to remove and for many years to damage the marine world.
Scientists from Erlangen-Nürnberg University in Germany hope that in the future, oil pollution can be purged with the aid of magnets. For this purpose, iron oxide particles develop on which oil, diesel and other hydrocarbons are deposited in water.
Iron oxide is in itself a magnet. Particles have additionally coated scientists with just one molecule thin layer of acid that attracts oily substances like crude oil, gasoline and diesel. In what form iron oxide particles should be coated in order to attract different types of fat, scientists simulate computer use.
When the processed iron oxide was then introduced into oil contaminated with oil, it accumulated with 14 times the volume of oil molecules, rather than the volume of the particles in the interior. The magnetic particles together with the envelope can then be removed from the water in a relatively simple and environmentally friendly way and can even be used again after cleaning.
With only one iron oxide particle, it is possible to extract relatively large amounts of oil from the water, scientists with Professor Marcus Hulick, at the forefront of advanced functional materials, They tested their method at different temperatures, both in the sea and in the fresh water.
Halic and his colleagues, in cooperation with industrial partners, are now working on the production of iron oxide, which attracts oil, in large quantities, and the transfer of the concept of genuine use for water purification. If this succeeds, the process can be used both in the future and outside the laboratory, oil stains – unlike the methods used now – can be completely removed from the sea.
So far, in the case of environmental accidents for removing oil from water, among other things, the so-called. dispersion technique. In doing so, chemicals disperse oil in the sea, where microorganisms can decompose faster, but until then they remain in the water. This technique was also used in the Deepwater Horizon Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
German scientists published their findings in a review of advanced functional materials.