Headlines: “Virtual Wall” Could Contain Oil Spills

December 15, 2013 – University of Missouri researchers have invented a virtual wall that contain oil spills and prevent them from spreading. It also has potential use in oil and other fossil fuel transportation and would prevent spills.

Oil is a low-surface tension liquid and can easily spread. That’s what makes it so dangerous when in contact with water. For spill boats fighting a sudden rupture at a rig such as the Deepwater Horizon, speed is of the essence. Because once the oil gets into the water it spreads rapidly and becomes almost impossible to contain. Hence those who fight oil spills use dispersants once containment is broken.

But the Missouri researchers have developed a micro/nanoelectromechanical or M/NEMS technology that works on oil and other fossil fuels at the micro/nanoscopic level. These M/NEMS can control oil droplets and guide them, confining them to a pathway chosen by those operating the technology.

The research results have been published in the journal Langmuir, a publication of the American Chemical Society.


Virtual walls for oil spills

Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery.