The American Chemical Society (ACS) has produced a podcast that discusses how unprocessed, raw cotton has is an eco-friendly alternative to effectively sop up oil.
Based on a report by SeshadriRamkumarin the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the new podcast is available for free at iTunes and from www.acs.org/globalchallenges.
In light of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, Ramkumar notes that a particular need exists for oil-spill sorbents that are abundantly available at relatively low cost. They also should be sustainable and biodegradable. There have been extensive studies on fibers such as barley straw, kapok and wool — but big gaps in knowledge about how they take up crude oil, and no data on unprocessed raw cotton.
Ramkumar’s team decided to fill those gaps with research on “low micronaire” cotton, a form of unprocessed cotton with relatively less commercial value.
They report that each pound of the cotton has the ability to sop up and hold more than 30 pounds of crude oil.
“In contrast to synthetic sorbents, raw cotton with its high crude oil sorption capacity and positive environmental footprint make it an ecologically friendly sorbent for oil spill cleanups,” the report concludes.
The podcast is part of ACS’ “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions” series of podcasts describing some of the 21st century’s most daunting problems and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions.