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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Giant 'Kitchen Towel' Could Be Used to Mop Up Oil Spills

from the Times (London)

Giant "kitchen towels" could replace booms, bombs and detergents as the best remedy for a catastrophic oil spill, researchers said after inventing a super-absorbent membrane.

The wafer-thin sheet, made from nanowires, acts like blotting paper on oil and has the capacity to absorb 20 times its own weight. It is impervious to water, remaining dry even when left under water for a month, but soaks up oil and other contaminants, which can then be removed and disposed of safely.

Researchers believe that it will lead to the development of huge "towels" that could be dropped into the seas or dragged through the water to soak up oil spills like those caused by the Torrey Canyon, Exxon Valdez and Amoco Cadiz.

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