Magnetic soap could lift oil spill woes

(Credit:
U.S. Coast Guard)

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Bristol have created what they say is the world’s first magnetic soap, and it’s gaining attention as a potential method for cleaning up oil spills.

As first reported in the Angewandte Chemie chemistry journal, the team of researchers created the magnetic soap by dissolving iron atoms, which give the soap particles a metallic center, into a chlorine and bromine solution similar to what’s found in mouthwash and fabric softener.

In tests, the magnetic soap was able to overcome surface tension and gravity to rise to the magnetic source.

(Credit:
University of Bristol)

To test its magnetic properties, the group inserted a magnet into a test tube containing the soap solution, water, and oil and found that the soap was able to rise through the water and oil to reach the magnet.

Led by Professor Julian Eastoe, the researchers also say the soap’s magnetic properties make it easier to round up and remove from a system and it has less of an impact on the environment.

The current problem with detergents (aka surfactants) used to clean oil spills is that they often require… [Read more]

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