Scientists from Deakin University, together with French colleagues, say that they have manufactured a lightweight and reusable material that can absorb up to 33 times its weight in a wide range of spilt oils, chemical solvents and dyes, while repelling water.
Deakin University's Dr Wei Wei Lei said that "The effective removal of oils, organic solvents and dyes from water is of significant, global importance for environmental and water source protection.”
The absorbant material consists of sheets of boron nitride, also called "white graphene".
The sheets are highly porous, have a high surface area and float on water. When the white sheets are dropped on an oil-polluted water surface they immediately absorb the oil and become dark brown. It only takes about two minutes until all of the oil is taken up by the nanosheets.
Once saturated, the sheets can be easily picked up from the water surface and cleaned by heating or washing to be reused several times.
The ability to recycle so simply and easily makes the porous boron nitride nanosheets ideal for water purification and treatment.
“What we have developed is unique and has enormous potential on the global market," said Dr Lei.
Source: Deakin University
Researchers at the University of New South Wales have found a way to make very high efficiency solar cells out of cheap, low-grade silicon.
It has been known for several decades that hydrogen atoms can be introduced into the atomic structure of silicon to help correct defects. But researchers have had limited success in controlling the hydrogen to maximise its benefits or even understanding why this happens.
According to Professor Stuart Wenham from the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW “Our research team at UNSW has worked out how to control the charge state of hydrogen atoms in silicon – something that other people haven’t previously been able to do.”
The charge state determines how well the hydrogen can move around the silicon and its reactivity, which is important to help correct the defects.
Professor Wenhan says that “We have seen a 10,000 times improvement in the mobility of the hydrogen and we can control the hydrogen so it chemically bonds to things like defects and contaminants, making these inactive”.
The UNSW team is working with industry partners and equipment manufacturers to bring ithe technology market.
Source: University of New South Wales
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