A new material made from sulphur and waste cooking oil that can soak up oil spills is about to be produced commercially following a deal between its university inventors and a Singapore manufacturing company.
The collaboration between Adelaide’s Flinders University and Clean Earth Technologies (CET) will see use a new facility opened in South Australia which will produce industrial quantities of the new absorbent polysulfide.
The sponge-like substance contains a hydrophobic polymer that repels water but attracts oil.
When saturated with oil the substance turns into a gel that can be scooped out of the water.
The collected oil can then be squeezed from it and reused.
“This is an entirely new class of oil absorbent – one that will prove to be low-cost, scalable, and highly efficient,” says Justin Chalker, a professor at Flinders University, who led the research project.
Paul Hanna, CET chairman, adds that the new commercial partnership with the university is an important step forward in environmental disaster management.
“We're heavily focused on some of the biggest and most challenging environmental problems in the world today, which is why we are looking for solutions that are smarter and more effective,” he says.
“Innovative technology like this – which uses waste products to solve waste problems – will have enormous advantages for industries all around the world.”