In the world, there are many occurrences of oil spillage during its transport via oil tankers and ships. The Deepwater Horizon incident is one of many accidents which discharged 210 million US gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
This results in ocean pollution which poses a potential threat to the diverse marine life. Miscalculated routes and accidents by the maneuverings of these large vessels would cause oil leakage and on board combustion. Most of the time, the crude oil, petroleum and natural gas are cleared by instances such as booms, barriers and skimmers which are insufficient according to the quantity of the spill.
This creates a layer on the surface which blocks oxygen and sunlight passing through, thus, making the area contaminated and hazardous for sea creatures. In light of such mishaps, experts have brought up ideas to incorporate nanotechnology by using various nanomaterials to aid in the cleaning process whilst considering its effectiveness, time, cost and labour. The concept that would be discussed is water filter coating. This futuristic application is enabled by a carbon-based material which are nanotubes for environmental purposes. The particular idea is inspired by water lilies. A unique property which the lotus possess is that it repels water instead of oil.
The situation is then reversed, thus, revolutionizing the basic idea of nanocoating where it works by filtering oil while allowing water to pass through. The coating is invisible to the human eye and can be replicated at a lower cost compared to other ideas. Usually there are two teams whom are responsible to clear up the spill which is the coast guard and Environmental Protection Agency.
Oil spill remediation using engineered nanomaterials makes it easier and faster to attend to. This means a drastic improvement in response to manage and prevent oil slick to spread across the affected zone. The process of handling the problem would be erased as the nanomaterials spread across evenly and would result in a higher surface area, therefore, reactivity. However, materials at a nanoscale could pose a new concern which is their toxicological risks due to its great exposure to humans where it could be inhaled, absorbed or ingested. The nanoparticles can be found in the food chain of biological life. It is also possible that important microbes be damaged. The use of the nanoproduct would have a big impact on the field of environmental remediation as it has a very likely chance of being viable to the market as massive oil spillage creates demand for supply to clean up.
The commercial viability is dependent on raw material cost and production cost. The cost for this product is merely $1 per square foot. Currently, it is not commercially viable due to its inability to produce carbon nanotube in large quantities.
It can also be identified as carbon nanotube sponge. It is a thin film which covers the area needed deep cleansing of the pollution. Carbon nanotube sponge are made by applying electric current through two carbonaceous electrodes in an inert gas atmosphere.
This method is called plasma arcing. This meant that the evaporation of one electrode as cations followed by deposition of the other electrode, thus, creating carbon nanotubes at the opposing electrode. This concludes that it is quite evident that nanotechnology provides sanction and relief for oil spill cleanup in the effort to keep our planet functioning and its sustainability.
This means that by using nanomaterials, innovative concepts like such could be applicable to prevent further damage our ecosystem has to endure.