DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

Scientists develop ‘Gelator’ to easily recover marine oil spills

Thanks to this compound developed by IISER scientists marine oil spill would be easy to scoop out.

In a bid to ease recovery of oil from marine spills scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Thiruvananthapuram have developed a compound named gelator that has the capability to congeal oil from an oil and water mixture.

To develop the gelator the scientists used glucose as a starting material and by conducting various chemical reactions finally developed gelators that selectively congeal oil, including crude oil, from an oil-water mixture.

More about the compound, Gelator

  • A team led by Dr. Kana M Sureshan from the School of Chemistry developed the compound that are in powder form and can be easily applied over oil-water mixture and also they do not cause any environmental damage
  • Unlike current methods gelators can be used many times, however, if used for extracting crude oil from spill it can’t be reused
  • The gelator molecule is partly hydrophobic and partly hydrophilic. The hydrophilic part helps in self-assembling to form gelator fibres, the hydrophobic part is responsible for its diffusion into the oil layer
  • Since the outer part of the fibre is hydrophobic, oil tends to gets into the spongy network made of fibres
  • Once the oil is sucked in the fibre network, it loses its fluidity and becomes a gel. As the self-assembly is strong, the gel is able to maintain its structure and rigidity even under pressure.

The results based on laboratory studies were published recently in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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