Scientists explore the ability of aquatic ferns to absorb oil

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Plazma Inferno!, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    Certain varieties of aquatic floating weeds demonstrate an impressive ability to selectively absorb oil from contaminated water. These plants, which are often regarded as a nuisance, could in fact provide an extremely convenient way of cleaning up messy oil spills. Reporting their latest results, German scientists have been discovering what makes these plants so special.
    In their study, the team focused on a number of water plants including four species of Salvinia - an aquatic fern - which were selected for their hairy leaves. The shape of these hairy outgrowths, known as trichomes, falls into four categories and the researchers fine-tuned their sample to get the maximum information on the correlation between trichome type and oil absorption. The results of the study show that the shape of the hair ends is important in supporting the oil/air interface to ensure maximum oil absorption and retention capabilities.
    IMT has developed a synthetic version of these hairy surfaces dubbed 'nanofur', which is produced by pressing a hot rough plate into a polymer foil.
    Nanofur is superhydrophobic and superoleophilic and, like the aquatic ferns, can selectively absorb oil while repelling water. One of the original goals of the current study was to learn from the plants to identify ways to increase the absorption capacity of nanofur, but the results also suggest other opportunities.

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