Canadian scientists' revolutionary oil spill device gets $1.7m funding
Oil spills are one of the most dreaded, detrimental events on the planet: BP estimated the clean-up costs of 2010's Deepwater Horizon spill to be $62bn in 2016 - and researchers have found Americans would pay $17.2bn to prevent the same thing ever happening again.
Luckily one group of Canadian scientists has developed a unique and innovative solution to control oil spills - one that will allay the concerns of people everywhere.
Ingenuity Lab, whose team specialises in nanotechnology, has created a unique product to suck oil out of water. So impressive is the invention that the group has been awarded $1.7m from Natural Resources Canada to boost the project.
Ingenuity Lab's groundbreaking device acts as a sponge - using a carbon-nanotube mesh - that attracts and then soaks up oil from the water.
Once the oil has been soaked up, the mesh is removed from the water and targeted with ultraviolet light, heat or electricity, which help to expel the oil.
Impressively, tests have shown the technology can clean up nearly 100 percent of a spill, meaning the oil can then be reused. This is not only environmentally friendly, but also means spills may not be as financially devastating as they once were, as companies may be able to recover some of their resources.
Carlo Montemagno, director of Ingenuity Lab and leader of the project, hopes the technology will be used on ocean vessels, as well as in rivers and streams. Speaking about the project, he said: "We were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the membrane a year ago. Now we are in the process of developing a system for producing it at a large scale."
The product has wide-ranging implications, according to Montemagno; it may be used in a number of industries where emulsions need to be separated out - such as the production of oil, food or nutraceuticals.
With the funding, Montemagno and his team will work on a preproduction pilot system to produce the material at scale. They want to start real-world field-testing in under two years' time.
Ingenuity Lab has become one of the most respected and productive scientific institutions in Canada, renowned for its work in agriculture, healthcare and nanotechnology, among other areas.
With this innovative creation, it has cemented itself as not only a scientific leader, but as a protector - of humans and the planet.
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