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IISER Researchers develop Gelator to scoop out marine oil spills

Researchers from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Thiruvananthapuram have developed a compound named gelator to scoop out marine oil spills.

They had produced gelators using glucose as a starting material and through several other chemical reactions.

How it works?

  • The gelator molecule is partly hydrophilic and partly hydrophobic. The hydrophilic part helps in self-assembling to form gelator fibres, while the hydrophobic part is responsible for its diffusion into oil layer.
  • Since outer part of the fibre is hydrophobic, oil tends to gets into spongy network made of fibres. Once inside the fibre network, oil loses fluidity and becomes a gel. The gel was strong enough to be scooped with a spatula.

What are the advantages?

  • Gelator has ability to selectively congeal oil, including crude oil from an oil-water mixture. It makes the process of recovering marine oil spills simple, efficient and cost-effective.
  • It is in a powder form and can be easily applied over oil-water mixture. It does not cause any environmental damage.
  • It can be recovered oil from oil-water mixture and can be reused several times. But in the case of crude oil, the gelator can’t be recycled.

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