This ultra-absorbent "nanosponge" could fix the world's worst oil spills

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The tiny sponge featured in this video may not look like very much, but it has the ability to absorb 100 times its weight in oil. Even better, it "hates" water, meaning it's perfect for cleaning up oil spills.

The nanosponge is the work of engineers at Rice University - lead author Daniel Hashim explains the technology in the video up top. The sponge is made out of carbon nanotubes, with some extra boron atoms added in at all the junctions to help its absorptive properties.

As the researchers write in their paper in Nature, the nanosponge boasts "ultra-light weight, super-hydrophobicity, high porosity, thermal stability, and mechanical flexibility", along with being "strongly oleophilic", which literally means that it loves oil almost as much as it hates water - it is super hydrophobic, after all. Even better, the researchers report it can still be used to efficiently remove oil from seawater even after being used multiple times.


For more, check out the complete paper, available now over at Nature's Scientific Reports.