The investigators have developed and patented a new polyolefin-based hydrocarbon super-absorbent polymer (Petrogel®) that can effectively transform a maritime oil spill into a floating solid (oil-swelled gel), ready for collection (recovery by skimmer) and refining as regular crude oil, with no special disposal requirements and no residual waste in natural resources.
Three standard methods are commonly deployed to combat an oil spill on the open sea today, including booms and skimmers, dispersants, and in situ burning. These methods are either ineffective or have deleterious environmental consequences. Most of the spilled oil is wasted, becoming pollutants in the air and water. Small fractions that are recovered generate a large quantity of solid and liquid waste. The technology provides a system for collection and reuse or recycling of spilled hydrocarbons.
The technology is protected by multiple patents and patent applications: (1) USP 9,109,057 “Methods and materials for hydrocarbon recovery,” (2) Pending US Patent Application 14/801,414, (3) Pending US Patent Application 14/857,440, and (4) Pending US Patent Application 15/237,283. Trademark registration has been attained for PETROGEL (for Organic Absorbents in the Nature of Polyolefins for the Containment, Collection and Recovery of Hydrocarbons). US Trademark Registration No. 4,768,875 (2015). Patent Cooperation Treaty PCT/US2015/043576.