The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 is reported as one of the US’s worst environmental disasters, costing $40 million. Until now, there are two main methods to remove oil spills: chemical dispersants, which break up the oil, and skimming, a technique whereby the oil is pulled off the surface of the water.There are drawbacks to both -- chemical dispersants can have negative impacts on marine life and skimming can be hampered by bad weather.
MIT researchers have developed a new technique for magnetically separating oil and water that could be used to clean up oil spills. They believe that, with their technique, the oil could be recovered for use, offsetting much of the cost of cleanup.
On its own, oil is not magnetic, but MIT’s new technique would mix water-repellent ferrous nanoparticles--that contain iron--into the oil plume, and then utilize a magnet to simply lift the oil out of the water. The researchers envision that the process could take place aboard an oil-recovery vessel, to prevent the nanoparticles from contaminating the environment.Seawater polluted with oil would be pumped onto a boat treatment facility. Once on board, the magnetic nanoparticles would be added and attach themselves to the oil.The liquid would then be filtered with the magnets to separate the oil and water, with the water returned to the sea and the oil carried back to shore to an oil refinery.Afterward, the nanoparticles could be magnetically removed from the oil and reused. It’s believed that this ability to recover and reuse the oil would offset much of the cost of cleanup, making companies like BP more willing to foot the bill for their mistakes.
By Stanford Magnets, http://www.stanfordmagnets.com/.
Based in California, Stanford Magnets has been involved in the R&D and sales of licensed Rare-earth permanent magnets, Neodymium magnets and SmCo magnets, ceramic magnets, flexible magnets and magnetic assemblies since the mid of 1980‘s. We supply all these types of magnets in a wide range of shapes, sizes and grades