Oil spills can have a devastating impact on the environment and the need to act quickly and effectively after such a catastrophe is paramount. The GEnIuS project promotes a material that can rapidly separate oil from seawater, two liquids that do not mix easily together. The advantage it brings is that the loss of a vital energy resource - oil - and damage to aquatic eco-systems is limited. The product, already on the list of materials approved in Italy for oil spill clean-ups, is also effective for hydrocarbon removal from contaminated soils.
Oil spills represents one of the major pollution sources for the aquatic environment but also a great loss of an important energetic resource such as oil.
The GEnIuS project offers a possible eco-innovative solution to this age-old problem.
Making waves in water eco-systems safety
GEnluS has produced a graphene-based and recyclable material, called Basic Graphene Plus, which is able to soak up oil from the water and sands. Derived from natural graphite, it is capable of rapidly separating liquids, such as oil and water, which do not normally mix easily together, and removing even low concentrations of hydrocarbons.
Basic Graphene Plus can absorb up to 90 times its weight with minimal oil loss. This limits both the loss of oil and damage to the environment through the spread of toxic substances.
Cutting the cost of oil spills clean up
It performs four times better than traditional materials, cuts clean-up costs by 60% and can be used for other types of water and soil contamination. The material is low-cost as it can be produced on site.
The EU-funded initiative is coordinated by Directa Plus Spa, whose aim is to produce 30 tonnes per year.
The material goes into industrial production, and this is for the first time in Italy, on 23 June 2014.
Project coordinator Giulio Cesareo said, "This is an eco-innovative solution which reduces the impact of oil spills on ecosystems and human health."
Photo © Directa Plus S.p.A