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Eco-friendly oil spill solution developed

Date:
June 27, 2015
Source:
City College of New York
Summary:
An eco-friendly biodegradable green 'herding' agent that can be used to clean up light crude oil spills on water has been developed by researchers. Derived from the plant-based small molecule phytol abundant in the marine environment, the new substance would potentially replace chemical herders currently in use, they say.
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Liquid oil on water (stock image). Herding agents are surface-active molecules (surfactants) that when added to a liquid, such as seawater, reduce the surface tension
Credit: © johndwilliams / Fotolia

City College of New York researchers led by chemist George John have developed an eco-friendly biodegradable green "herding" agent that can be used to clean up light crude oil spills on water.

Derived from the plant-based small molecule phytol abundant in the marine environment, the new substance would potentially replace chemical herders currently in use. According to John, professor of chemistry in City College's Division of Science, "the best known chemical herders are chemically stable, non-biodegradable, and hence remain in the marine ecosystem for years."

"Our goal was to develop an eco-friendly herding molecule as an alternative to the current silicone-based polymers," said John.

Herding agents are surface-active molecules (surfactants) that when added to a liquid, such as seawater, reduce the surface tension. In the case of oil spills, when they are added along the periphery of an oil spill slick, they contract and thicken the slick or push slicks together so that they can be collected or burned.

"Understanding the interfacial behavior is crucial to design the next generation eco-friendly herding agents" said Charles Maldarelli, a professor of chemical engineering in CCNY's Benjamin Levich Institute for Physico-Chemical Hydrodynamics who participated in the study.

John's research team also included Deeksha Gupta, a postdoctoral student now at the Royal Society of Chemistry, and Vijay John of Tulane University.

Their finding will be published in the June 26 issue of Science Advances.


Story Source:

Materials provided by City College of New York. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Deeksha Gupta, Bivas Sarker, Keith Thadikaran, Vijay John, Charles Maldarelli and George John. Sacrificial amphiphiles: Eco-friendly chemical herders as oil spill mitigation chemicals. Science Advances, June 2015 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400265

Cite This Page:

City College of New York. "Eco-friendly oil spill solution developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150627081212.htm>.
City College of New York. (2015, June 27). Eco-friendly oil spill solution developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 8, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150627081212.htm
City College of New York. "Eco-friendly oil spill solution developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150627081212.htm (accessed May 8, 2017).