New compound to scoop out marine oil spills
Nov 25, 2016
Why in News:
Gelator(a compound) developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Thiruvananthapuram may soon make recovering marine oil spills become simple, efficient and cost-effective
How it was developed:
Scientists used glucose as a starting material and through several chemical reactions produced compounds (gelators) that selectively congeal oil, including crude oil, from an oil-water mixture.
- Gelators, which are in a powder form, can be easily applied over oil-water mixture and do not cause any environmental damage.
- Unlike current methods, gelator can recover oil from oil-water mixture and the gelator can be reused several time
- The gelator molecule is partly hydrophobic (repels and does not absorb water) and partly hydrophilic (strong tendency to mix with water).
- While the hydrophobic part is responsible for its diffusion into the oil layer, the hydrophilic part helps in forming gelly like substance.
- The gel formed is strong enough to be scooped out.
- Further work is to make strong gel out of all types of oils, including crude oil.
What is Oil Spill
It is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. It happens when liquid petroleum is released into the environment by vehicle, vessel or pipeline. It happens on a large scale and is mostly seen in water bodies. It happens due to human negligence and is a major form of pollution.
Effects of Spill:
- Environmental effect:The animal life that lives in the water or near the shore are the ones most affected by the spill. In most cases, the oil simply chokes the animals to death. Others that live face a number of other problems. The oil works its way into the fur and plumage of the animals. As a result, both birds and mammals find it harder to float in the water or regulate their body temperatures.
- Tourism decline: The local tourism industry suffers a huge setback as most of the tourists stay away from such places. Dead birds, sticky oil and huge tarballs become common sight. Due to this, various activities such as sailing, swimming, rafting, fishing, parachute gliding cannot be performed. Industries that rely on sea water to carry on their day to day activities halt their operations till it gets cleaned.