A closeup of hair follicles and water droplet
on an aquatic fern
Aquatic Fern - Nanofur for Oil Spills
Oil spills continue to be a worldwide problem. Such events
are a plague on shorelines and animal life. Ocean contamination by oil results from natural seepage, pipelines, oil tankers
and drilling operations. Some of the chemicals used in oil cleanup become stubborn pollutants themselves. Sawdust is a safer
material for mopping up oil but it quickly becomes saturated with water.
What is needed is a material which repels water while at the
same time attracting oil, and this is found to be the case for several species of floating aquatic ferns. These plants have
tiny hairs which readily trap oil droplets while repelling water. The ferns have traditionally been seen as nuisance weeds.
Now however, they may be harvested and processed for oil removal. Researchers also produce an artificial polymer plastic called
nanofur whose surface mimics that of the aquatic ferns.
It appears that the Creator has supplied the oceans with floating
fern plants which naturally soak up oil using their intricate surface structure. We are now copying their ability with new
materials to handle man-made oil spills.