09:51 GMT29 May 2020
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    Scientists at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (PRUE)`, together with their colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), have developed a new environmentally friendly and totally biodegradable sorbent to clean up oil spills and oil products. The study results were published in the European Polymer Journal.

    According to experts, the material for collecting oil and oil products is an innovation, which is on a par with global competitors in terms of performance. Its advantage is controlled biodegradability within 1-2 months after use in the sorbate environment (a soluble substance, in this case oil).

    The scientists noted that this was possible due to the material’s composition and the method of its creation. The sorbent is a non-woven fibrous material based on natural biopolymers obtained using advanced electroforming technology, which makes the material ultra-thin.

    “The combination of biopolymer fibers with a diameter from fractions to several micrometers allows you to get a non-woven material with a huge surface (up to 100 square meters per 1 gramme) and pores of various sizes (from several units to several tens of micrometers), able to sorb a large amount of oil and oil products,” Anatoly Olkhov, a leading researcher at the “Advanced Composite Materials and Technologies” laboratory of PRUE told Sputnik.

    The researchers explained that the sorbent biodegrades quite quickly due to special microorganisms, which are contained in naturally-sorbed oil and can easily recover the natural biopolymer. This eliminates the sorbent extraction stage in order to separate oil. Only sorbate filtration from polymer particles and dirt is needed. As a result, oil refining becomes more technologically advanced and economically viable.

    According to experts, the materials obtained can be used to collect and remove oil and oil products from water and soil surfaces. As a material, it can be used for filter loading of treatment plants while treating oily wastewater and industrial effluents, as well as in filters for oil vapours recovery.

    Currently, the PRUE team, together with the Laboratory of Diffusion Phenomena in Polymer Systems at the Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is producing enough material to conduct complex semi-industrial tests in order to improve the technology and structural elements.


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