Technology Description: This remarkable smart material represents a low-cost environmentally friendly solution for any industry that needs to separate oil and water in a controlled manner. Inspired by the natural ability of fish scales to repel oil innovators at KAUST have developed smart surfaces that can alternately attract and repel oil in an aqueous solution. The smart surfaces are made by grafting a block copolymer onto common low-cost porous materials such as non-woven textiles and polyurethane sponges. The surface can switch between repelling oil/attracting water and vice versa. Applications: This highly controllable method of separating oil and water can be of benefit to a wide range of industries including petrochemical pharmaceutical chemical and many more.
These materials can be regenerated and recycled many times making them a sustainable and highly cost-effective solution for many applications (e.g. oil spill cleanup).