Osorb: Drink Cleaned Water After Oil Contamination

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Paul Edmiston demonstrates the effectiveness of his Osorb water purifier by drinking from a slurry of water and engine-enhancing fuel additives. Osorb is a powder made from tiny fragments of chemically modified glass, and it works like a nanoscale sponge. If you mix it into an oil spill, a hazardous waste plume, or a host of other contaminants, it soaks up the toxic organic compounds, leaving pure water behind. In the process, Osorb swells as much as eight times its original volume, pushing with a force that could lift up to 20,000 times its weight -- a thermos full could lift a car. After a waste site is cleaned, the Osorb can be rinsed or heated to get at the spilled material, which can usually be reused. Developed by chemist Paul Edmiston and his teams at the College of Wooster and ABSMaterials in Ohio, Osorb was recently tested at the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and now is under evaluation on drill rigs around the world, helping rig owners clean wastewater from day to day drilling. As for snagging traces of explosives -- it has been perfected for that task, as well.

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