A Novel 2D MoS2 Sponge Oil-Water Separator (MDSOS)

EPA Grant Number: SU839263
Title: A Novel 2D MoS2 Sponge Oil-Water Separator (MDSOS)
Investigators: Lee, Dr. Woo Hyoung
Institution: University of Central Florida
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: February 1, 2018 through January 31, 2019
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2017) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The research objectives of this study are to: (1) develop oil-water separation technology based on 2D MoS2-incorporated porous membranes; and (2) evaluate MoS2 oilwater separator preformation and reusability and optimize the technology. The MDSOS will positively impact the planet by providing a sustainable approach to oil emissions by efficiently removing oil from water at minimal expense to the present wildlife and therefore effectively reducing the amount of water pollution released during transport and extraction. The positive impact on people extends to the protection and maintaining of seas and oceans that will ensure that future generations have access to clean water resources, as well. The MDSOS process is also economically beneficial (prosperity) as it is a waste-free process and oil-recovery (or recycling) system. Following absorption, depending on oil quality, the oil can be harvested from the sponge for proper disposal allowing the sponge to be recycled. Overall, the MDSOS will provide a unique and sustainable solution for oil-contaminated natural and engineered systems. This project will serve as a useful tool in teaching and promoting sustainable principles to those in academia, industry, and the community leaders through The Hive, which is a community forum (www.ideasforus.org) and Think/ Do Tank for energy and sustainability issues in Orlando and beyond.


The proposed 2D MoS2 sponge’s superhydrophobicity to capture oil while simultaneously rejecting water makes it an ideal candidate for promoting sustainability practices in a community. Our system, MDSOS utilizes the dip-dry method to layer MoS2 along the porous substance in order to induce superhydrophobicity and superoleophilicity for the selective separation of water and oil in a sustainable manner. It is expected that the 2D MoS2 sponge will effectively separate water and oil, allow for the recovery of oil, and retain high performance after multiple uses.


The proposed research project seeks to develop a 2-dimensional (2D) molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) sponge oil-water separator (MDSOS) – a novel superhydrophobic and superoleophilic sponge technology for highly efficient oil-water separation. The primary object is to develop a low-weight, low-cost, non-toxic superhydrophobic and superoleophilic porous substances for sustainable oil-water separation. The lifecycle of oil includes the extraction of the substance along with its transportation and utilization. Amongst these steps leaks and spillage are a common occurrence contributing to water pollution. With the population and the demand for fuel increases at high rates, it is critical to develop a sustainable method for treating oil-water mixtures. Currently, the standards for such treatments involve the application of chemicals (dispersants), resulting in possible byproduct pollution. The disadvantages associated with the multitude of oil spill response methods demonstrate a clear motivation for using an innovative material to aid in the overall reduction of contaminants found in our water resources.

Expected Results:

The goal of this project is to promote an oil separation from recalcitrant oil-water mixtures, preventing secondary environmental pollutions. The proposed system will represent a field-deployable, easily operational, cost-effective, and highly efficient oil-water separation method that does not require highly trained technicians and/or sophisticated equipment or devices. The MDSOS performance will be extensively explored under various conditions from fresh water to ocean water environment. It is expected that MDSOS can be used for fast remedial actions at unexpected oil spill events. The self-assessment will be conducted regularly based on the weekly internal meetings, monthly cross-laboratory meetings, Phase I report and II application, and the 2018 EPA P3 National Sustainable Design Expo.

Supplemental Keywords:

Dispersants, Emulsion, MoS2, Oil recovery, Oil Spill, Oil-water, separation, Superhydrophobic and superoleophilic sponge, Surfactants, 2D

Relevant Websites:


Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final
  • P3 Phase II:

    A Novel 2D MoS2 Sponge Oil-Water Separator (MDSOS)