During a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, a team of researchers announced that they had made significant progress in terms of developing a new oil dispersant by using ingredients found in your run-off-the-mill food products.
Apparently, their findings might soon make the task of managing accidental oil spills a much easier one, as tests carried out so far have proven that this newly developed dispersant is quite efficient when it comes to breaking oil slicks and cleaning up the animals whose fur or feathers might have come in contact with said harmful substance.
As well as this, because this new type of dispersant is mainly made from ingredients also used in the manufacturing of sugary treats such as peanut butter, chocolate and ice cream, the costs of producing it on a large-scale would be relatively small, especially when compared to the potential benefits.
Talking about the results of this research she took part in, Lisa K. Kemp, Ph.D., wished to make it as clear as possible that, although other oil dispersants are presently available on the market, and efforts are constantly made to improve on existing procedures aimed at controlling oil spills, the dispersant she and her team developed is a rather revolutionary one.
“Other scientists are working on new oil dispersants and absorbents, but nothing that’s quite like ours. It not only breaks up oil but prevents the deposition of oil on birds and other objects, like the ingredients in laundry detergent keep grease from redepositing on clothing in the rinse cycle."
Therefore, "Birds can sit in slicks of the dispersed oil, they can dive through it and take off and flap their wings, and the oil will fall off,” she told members of the press.
This means that, whereas other dispersant might also affect the fur or plumage of various animals, leaving them susceptible to hypothermia as a result of their becoming drenched in water, this new dispersant is bound to cause no such problems.
Presently, the researchers who came up with this innovative way of managing oil spills are waiting for various companies to announce their interest in this product, thus paving the way for more complex and revealing testing activities to be carried out.