Glass isn’t usually our first choice for cleaning up household messes, but a company called Absorbent Materials thinks that a new kind of “swelling glass” – glass that swells up like a sponge – could be the key to cleaning up contaminated groundwater. Dubbed Obsorb, the material absorbs volatile molecules in water like fuel oil and solvents without sucking up the water itself.
Photo by viZZZual
Obsorb is cheap to implement too. Once the Obsorb material is full (it can hold up to 8 times its weight), it floats to the surface and pollutants can be skimmed off. Afterwards, it can be dropped back into the water and reused hundreds of times.
Absorbent Materials is well on its way to making Obsorb commercially available. The glass material is currently being tested in pilots across the US, and venture development group Jumpstart LLC recently invested $250,000 in the product. With 4,000 priority contamination sites in the US alone, Obsorb stands to make a big impact on the quality of our water.
Lead image by Photos8