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A research team of Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati invented a special device to separate oil from water. The device comprises two special membranes that filter water and oil efficiently even under harsh conditions. Design of membrane system is such that one of them is extremely water repellent in air, while, the other is repels oil in water as a result, a complex mixture of oil and water can be separated under any provided condition by this system of membranes.
Due to the immediate needs to control Environmental pollution, many material scientists have been working in the field of water-oil separation. Investigators got the cue for the same by observing similar instances in nature, like - the lotus leaf which stays intact even when inside the water due to its water repellent abilities and the scales of a fish which repels oil in order to survive in contaminated waters. By closely studying the structure of scales on fish body and leaves of lotus, researchers came up with two terms, that are :
- Superhydrophobicity (Super water repellent)
- Superleophobicity (Super oil repellent )
Also Read: IIT-M Researchers Developed Roberts
Based on the above concept, a team of researchers in IIT - G headed by Dr Uttam Manna, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Department, IIT-G, started working on this project along with his team which included:
- Mr Avijit Das
- Ms Dibyangana Parbat
- Ms Arpita Shome
Their work was further published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
The research team also tested the membrane system under severe conditions like river water, waster with different PH levels, seawater, etc and the device performed outstandingly under each and every condition.
As the need of Environmental cleanliness has increased in the past decade, this oil-water separation system is an excellent initiative to manage the oil- spills of various industries like textile, mining, food, petrochemicals etc. The wastewater produced by these industries must be treated before releasing into water bodies. Instalment of this oil-waster separator may support the treatment of wastewater.