Researchers at MIT have discovered a new method to improve the efficiency of cleaning up oil spills, using magnets. The “surprisingly simple but effective method for magnetically separating oil and water,” according to the university's website, could prove to be more thorough, less costly and less harmful to the environment.
Inspired by the catastrophic events of the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Markus Zahn, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, began testing his idea as explained in a recently posted YouTube video.
"The current oil spill technology, like skimmers -- they're very good in calm waters but in choppy waters, their oil recovery efficiency is about 50 percent… Our technology is supposed to improve that efficiency," postdoc Sharhriar Khushrushahi explains in the video. Think of it as an “add-on technology,” he explains.
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Unlike burning the oil, this method would not harm the environment and could be carried out quickly and continuously.
Considering the rate and frequency of oil spill occurring every year, the technology could play a huge role in saving ecosystems around the globe.