Series | Hard Reset

Engineering oleophilic sponges to save the oceans 

“A new wave of material sciences could help us start cleaning the environment instead of just, well, using it as a trash can.”
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No matter what your take on fossil fuels or renewable energy is – we can all agree that oil spills are not great, and we need a better way to clean them up.

Right now, to clean up the thousands of oil spills that happen each year in the United States, we mainly just set them on fire. It’s called an in-situ burn. You get it so it’s thick enough on top of the water that you can strike a flame and it’ll actually just burn away.


But what if you could pull that oil out – and use it? And what if we might all be sitting on the solution? A new wave of material sciences could help us start cleaning the environment instead of just well, using it as a trash can. It turns out just one super common material, with a few atomic modifications, can clean up oil spills better than anything else we’ve got

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