Solar-Assisted Fast Cleanup of Heavy Oil Spill by a Photothermal Sponge

Jian Chang, Yusuf Shi, Mengchun Wu, Renyuan Li, Le Shi, Yong Jin, Weihua Qing, Chuyang Tang, Peng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Rapid cleanup of heavy oil spill is always considered as a great challenge because the conventional porous oil sorbents cannot efficiently remove them due to the high viscosity of the oil (>1000 mPa·s). In this work, we take advantage of the photothermal effect to heating the heavy oil by using sunlight as energy source to significantly reduce the viscosity of the heavy oil and thus to achieve a fast heavy oil cleanup. A carbon nanotube (CNT) modified polyurethane sponge was fabricated as photothermal sorbent that exhibited superhydrophobicity, superoleophilicity, as well as outstanding absorption capacity of heavy oil. Thanks to the excellent photothermal effect of CNTs, the modified sponge achieved nearly full sunlight absorption (99%). The resulting solar heating effectively reduced the viscosity of the heavy oil, which enabled the modified sponge to quickly absorb heavy oil of 20 times its own weight under sun illumination. This solar-assisted heavy oil sorbent design is promising for future remediation of viscous oil-spills.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9192-9199
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2018


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