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Scientists Create a Sponge that Can Clean Oil Spills in Water

The scientists at the United States Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have revolutionized oil and diesel spill clean ups. Their research started after the Deepwater Horizon’s pipes exploded on April 20, 2010. Deepwater Horizon was an oil drilling platform built by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries. After it was built, it was leased to the oil and gas company BP from 2001 to 2013.
The explosion of the pipes caused the platform to sink and it released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Deepwater Horizon was the largest marine oil spill in United States History. Unfortunately, the oil did not settle at the surface, but it was congregating under the surface making it impossible for response crews to skim or burn the oil. The large amount of oil being released into the Gulf of Mexico impacted the marine life drastically. According to the National Wildlife Federation, 167,000 sea turtles were killed in the disaster. On the bright side, with the innovation at the Argonne National Laboratory, a sponge called the Oleo Sponge is able to absorb the oil in the oceans. The best part of the sponge is that it can be reused and so can the oil that it accumulates. The sponge is made up of polyurethane foam with a coat of metal oxide which attracts molecules. These molecules are attracted to oil and they absorb the oil while staying attached to the foam. The Oleo Sponge is an amazing invention that not only can clean our waters on a large scale, but also a small scale because it can absorb oil in harbors left from boats. Without this breakthrough, our waters would always be polluted with oil impacting the marine life and then the cities relying on the marine life.