A development in nano-engineered glass could be a game-changer in the efforts to clean and reclaim wastewater, especially the so-called 'produced' water from oil and gas extraction, which is estimated to be as much as 800 billion gallons each year.
"After field testing the modified silica, called Osorb, DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory confirmed it can remove more than 99 percent of oil and grease from water, and more than 90 percent of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes—also known as BTEX—the volatile compounds that can poison drinking water." - Forbes
Dr. Paul Edmiston and students at Ohio's College of Wooster chemistry department made the discovery of what's now named "Osorb" while doing research into nano-engineered glass for explosives detection. The material can rapidly swell up to eight times its original size, absorbing small organic toxins into itself but repelling water.
Osorb can absorb and capture a variety of organic materials from the water, both dispersed and dissolved, including hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and solvents. The absorbed compounds can then be separated from the glass with a heat or water treatment for further reclamation or disposal. After removal of the compounds, the glass material itself can be regenerated over 100 times.
This glass technology can also be adapted for different applications, such as these rain gardens with Osorb added to them.