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10 impressive innovations for cleaning up oil spills developed since the Gulf disaster

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smart filter
credit: Laura Rudich

Smart filter that uses gravity, not chemicals, to separate out oil

Researchers at the University of Michigan believe that they have developed a next generation oil cleanup technology that could forgo chemicals and could cleanup water through gravity instead.

The smart filter technology is able to essentially strain the oil from the water because of a novel nanomaterial coating that repels oil, but attracts water.

To test the material, the team dipped postage stamps and small scraps of polyester in the solution, cured them with ultraviolet light and tested them in various oil and water mixtures and emulsions, including things like mayonnaise. Amazingly, with 99.9 percent efficiency the material was able to separate out all the different oil and water combinations.

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