A SILICONE FOAM FOR THE SELECTIVE ABSORPTION OF OIL FROM WATER


Invention Summary:

Large oil spills (over 100,000 tons) such as the BP Deepwater Horizon spill (in which $20B was spent on cleanup and litigation) are not very frequent. However, in 2011 there were over 10 oil spills that released between 15 to 5,500 tons of oil into water. When an oil spill disaster occurs, oil quickly spreads on the surface of water and thus makes the cleanup an extremely difficult operation. The negative environmental impacts of oil spills are severe and current products and techniques do not provide an adequate solution.

Researchers at Rutgers have developed a new absorbent material that selectively absorbs oil from water, along with a novel process for its manufacturing and an embodiment of its field application. This novel material is a microporous open-cell silicone foam that is both intrinsically hydrophobic and oleophilic. Preliminary results show that not only is the foam capable of selectively separating oil from water, but it will also swell, rather than degrade, in the presence of organic solvents. The microstructure of the foam can be tuned by the curing temperature of the mixture and, therefore, the oil absorbing as well as mechanical properties of the foam can also be tuned.

This product will disrupt the oil spill cleanup market due to its low cost, reusability, rapid and simple production process, scalability, and high thermal stability at both low and high temperatures. It is expected that this product would not only be ordered and purchased in large quantities in the event of a spill, but also stockpiled in advance by government agencies and oil companies to enable immediate response to a spill. 

Market Application:

  • Oil Companies
  • Environmental Clean Up
  • State and Federal Government
  • Disaster Clean Up

Advantages:

  • The resulting foam absorbs oil (petroleum and vegetable) and rejects water
  • Swells in the presence of organic solvents
  • Does not leach hazardous compounds
  • Biocompatible
  • Capable of reversibly absorbing oil (petroleum based or even vegetable) while repelling water and thus can be reused multiple times.  

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent pending

Rutgers ID: 2012-114
Category(s):
Physical Sciences
Materials
Contact:
Lisa Lyu
Licensing Manager
848-932-4539
lisa.lyu@rutgers.edu
Inventors:
Shahab Shojaei-Zadeh
Michael Fechtmann
Keywords:
Biocompatible
Oil Absorbtion