A miracle chemical sponge could be the answer to cleaning up contaminated water and eliminating harmful toxins from the environment. A team led by chemist Paul Edmiston discovered the Osorb material, which removes toxins from water without bonding to H2O molecules, yielding clean water. The glass substance has been proven to act like a nanomechanical sponge that drinks up petroleum, solvents and other toxins. Osorb sponges can swell up to 8 times in volume as they scoop up contaminants, and the material can lift 20,000 times its own weight!
Edmiston likes to make a spectacle with the effectiveness of Osorb’s toxin removal qualities. Mixing motor oil and water, he then adds Osorb, which cleans the water. After removing the resulting swollen powder, Edmiston stands by the substance by drinking the water down – which is totally clean. The hydrophobic silica the material ignores water while bonding with both polar and non-polar compounds. The contaminants can then be removed easily from the water, and the Osorb can be reused up to 100 times.
The power of Osorb is currently being tested – Ohio treated 60 gallons of water per minute in a well, reducing its petroleum content from 227 milligrams per liter to just 0.1 mg. With the aid of Osorb, industrial accidents could be cleaned up quickly, and at high volumes – applications include purifying wastewater from fracking and cleaning up environmental disasters.