npj Clean Water ( IF 4.870 ) Pub Date : 2019-04-16 , DOI: 10.1038/s41545-019-0034-1 Ali T. Abdulhussein; Ganesh K. Kannarpady; Alexandru S. Biris
Methods for the efficient and affordable remediation of oil spills and chemical leaks are crucially needed in today’s environment. In this study, we have developed a simple, magnetic, porous material based on polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and steel wool (SW) that can fulfill these needs. The PDMS-SW presented here is superhydrophobic, superoleophilic, and capable of absorbing and separating oils and organic solvents from water. The material is mechanically and chemically stable, even in salty environments, and can be magnetically guided. It exhibits good selectivity, recyclability, and sorption capacity, and can quickly and continuously absorb and remove large amounts of oils and organic solutions from stationary and turbulent water. In addition, PDMS-SW’s inherently high porosity enables direct, gravity-driven oil-water separation with permeate flux as high as ~32,000 L/m2·h and separation efficiency over 99%. The solution immersion process used to prepare the material is easily scalable and requires only a single step. Thus, with its demonstrated combination of affordability, efficiency, and ease of use, PDMS-SW has the potential to meet the demands of large-area oil and chemical clean-ups.