Oil spills can do tremendous, irreversible damage to the planet, add up to billions of dollars in losses, take extensive time to clean up, and can happen far too easily even if massive precautions are in effect. We’ve seen it happen in many unfortunate instances.


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One reason why the effects of oil spills are so far reaching and enduring is the difficultly in containing and cleaning up the spill once it’s happened. This newly developed material, however, could help make oil spill cleanups a lot easier, faster, and cheaper by actually absorbing the oil like a sponge.

The Most Exciting Advancement For Oil Cleanup
Called “the most exciting advancement in oil spill clean-up technology in decades,” boron nitride nanosheet is an extremely thin material that, thanks to tiny holes in its structure, can actually increase its surface area to cover more than five tennis courts and absorb as much as 33 times its own weight in oil, as well as other organic substances.

Credit: kris krüg

Boron nitride nanosheet comes from a team of scientists from Drexel University, Philadelphia, and Missouri University of Science and Technology. Two decades of research have gone into the nanomaterial that’s used to create the sponge.

The material’s first stage came in the form of boron nitrate power, which is also called “white graphite.” Originally developed in 2013, the research team spent years working on how to turn the powder into a more cohesive, solid, sponge-like material that would actually be effective for cleaning up oil in an efficient, cost effective and prompt manner.

Ready For Real World Testing
The thin, super absorbent sponge is also flame resistant, flexible, and may have potential as a thermal and electrical insulator.

Computational modeling has been used to reveal the unique qualities and capabilities of this material, but the research team is now ready for the industry to test boron nitride nanosheet’s performance in various real world applications, including oil cleanup.

While it appears that there is still much to be learned about boron nitride nanosheet, it may be a revolutionary aid for coping with one of more disastrous side effects of drilling, transporting, and relying on oil for everyday life.

What are your thoughts on this new development?

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