Oil spill is currently a burning issue. The damage to the environment caused by an oil spill of any size demands immediate cleanup. The issue of Arctic drilling is of global concern and the industry must be equipped to tackle the problem of oil spill, if any. Current oil spill cleanup methods include booms, skimmers, and centrifuges. However, these containment methods have not been successful as nearly 60,000 barrels of oil are released into the water each day, and their efficiency to collect the leaked oil is too low. The paper presents an approach to solve this problem by use of porous material that not only absorb oil effectively but also provide a way to recover the spilled oil.

Aerogel is such a synthetic porous material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas. The product formed is a solid with very low density. A form of this Aerogel is made by mixing clay with a polymer and water in a blender. The mixture is then freeze-dried, air fills the gaps left by the loss of water, and the resulting material is ultra- lightweight sponge, comprising of about 96% air. The Aerogels are synthesized by a NH4OH catalyzed reaction and are found to be hydrophobic. Treating oil and salt-water mixtures with the aerogel at an oil to aerogel ratio of 3.5 showed that all CF3-aerogels efficiently separated oil from water, absorbing oil as much as 237 times of their weight. The present hurdle with the industrial application of Aerogel is its economical feasibility which can surely be overcome in upcoming years with the recent advancements in technologies. Future oil spills can be very effectively tackled by the use of Aerogels or other porous materials as Oil Spill Cleanup agents.

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