Tiny Scavenger Proves Apex Predator in Oil Spill Clean Up

nano-carboscavenger particles are small
Two-layered Nano-CarboScavengers have properties to both clump oil spill sheen and disperse them for bacterial digestrion.

When there is an oil spill in a body of water, booms are used to contain it so the contamination can be collected. The aftermath still leaves a sheen of oil that response teams then attempt to keep from devastating the natural environment.

What do they do? They dump chemicals into the water which may be as bad environmentally as the oil.

Enter engineers and chemists from the University of Illinois College of Engineering and ISTC with a new tool to more truly eliminate the damage from oil spills. They have developed microscopic carbon particles they call Nano-CarboScavengers which work in two ways. They have the ability to attract oil and swell in size, creating visible clumps which can be scooped up. The tiny spheres also reduce the surface tension of polluted water, giving natural microorganisms a chance to digest petroleum compounds into harmless components.

Let’s hear it for the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) which showed confidence in Bioengineer Dipanjan Pan and the team to provide them with seed money to develop the idea in 2015. Now the work is published in Nature Publishing. iSEE’s website has the full story.

ActGreen Summit Drives Sustainable Business Future

discussion during break out groups
ISTC Director Kevin O’Brien (second from the right) met with students studying economics, business, engineering and other fields during the ActGreen Green Business Summit Feb. 4.


ISTC Director Kevin C. O’Brien served on the keynote panel for ActGreen’s 3rd Annual Green Business Summit Saturday at the ACES Library.


ActGreen is a student leadership group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which prepares future business leaders to take environmental and sustainable values into their careers.


O’Brien told the summit participants that regardless of changes in political regimes, the importance of sustainable business ethics is here to stay.


“That train has left the station,” he said. “A sustainable business is more profitable and their products carry added value.”


Overwhelmingly the public has embraced the importance of sustainable business practices so that a successful brand must include sustainability at the core of their business planning, O’Brien said.


Other panelists during the summit were: Steven Rosenberg, founder and president of Green Purpose; Dave Wilms, owner of Advance Renewables, LLC, and moderator Cassie Carroll, program director at The Land Connection.