Develop Biodegradable, Non-Toxic, Oleophilic Hydrophobic Sorbent for Oil Spill Cleanup

EPA Contract Number: 68D10046
Title: Develop Biodegradable, Non-Toxic, Oleophilic Hydrophobic Sorbent for Oil Spill Cleanup
Investigators: Reed, Thomas B.
Small Business: Sea Sweep Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 1991 through March 1, 1992
Project Amount: $50,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (1991) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Contamination of waters by spilled petroleum products, liquid hydrocarbons, continues to be a frustration to those responsible for oil transport and the environment. Presently, all remediation methods, including natural, chemical, and mechanical, have limitations. In particular, adsorbents that adsorb oil onto surfaces are difficult to recover and have major disposal problems.

Sea Sweep, Inc., has developed and conducted preliminary tests on an absorbent material, called "Sea Sweep". "Sea Sweep" is oleophilic and, therefore, absorbs oil. It is also hydrophobic and floats on water. It is made from sawdust in a thermolytic process and is biodegradable. Particles of Sea Sweep can be easily removed from water, or they will be degraded with minimum harm to the environment because the oil is held inside each particle. Preliminary laboratory tests show that no visible oil remains after application of Sea Sweep.

The proposal is designed to find (1) the optimum method of preparation of the absorbent for representative oil viscosilies, (2) the optimum particle size for absorption of various hydrocarbons, (3) potential toxicity of the absorbent material, and (4) the degree of water contamination remaining after removal of particles saturated with hydrocarbons.

Supplemental Keywords:

Scientific Discipline, Waste, Sustainable Industry/Business, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Remediation, Chemistry, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Oil Spills, New/Innovative technologies, Chemistry and Materials Science, Engineering, Hazardous, biodegradable, hydrocarbon, petroleum contaminants, cleanup, petrochemical waste, spills, oil spill, sorbents, biodegradable materials, hydrocarbons, oil removal

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final