Oil Spill Recovery Technique

Students' Corner September Oil Spill Recovery Technique
Oil Spill Recovery Technique

Team Nanoknocks represented by Amey Kardile and Tejas Kabra, both Mechanical Engineering students from Pune Vidyarthi Griha’s College of Engineering, Pune. Their project was showcased at KPIT Sparkle 2018.


Over a two year period, Team Nanoknocks from the Pune Vidyarthi Griha’s College of Engineering, Pune have been working on a technology to separate oil from water after oil spills over. It is a well-known fact that oil companies across the globe see oil spill as a big issue as it renders oil and water useless. Team Nanoknocks undertook a massive effort and invested a considerable amount of time to formulate a foolproof material and roll out a first-of-its-kind solution.

Amey Kardile from Team Nanoknocks said that the team’s main challenge was to recover the oil by finding a material that adsorbs it efficiently. “It took us a lot of time and effort to formulate a fool proof material to get the project running. We overcame all hurdles and are proud that this is a first-of-its-kind solution in this field,” he said. The team developed a material that adsorbed oil from the surface of water, recovering its initial state of usability. The water levels can then be filtered to a drinkable standard.

The absorbent material is made with a blend of silicon and plant leaves, thus making it environment-friendly. This material is reusable up to 80 cycles, and helps save money and resources over the long-term, Kardile said.

A demonstration of real-time oil cleaning process using the material


Crude oil/ petroleum oil can produce huge amount of energy, which get wasted due to oil spill and any existing solution is not able to recover this energy. The ever-increasing environmental oil pollution concerns either from marine accidents or routine ship operations (tanker loading and unloading, etc.) pose a huge threat to the marine ecology as well (sea birds, mammals, algae, coral, sea-grass, etc.). Not just that, oil pollution also poses health hazards to the human population located in nearby coastal zones. Moreover, oil companies end up suffering huge economic losses owing to oil spillage.

It is pertinent to point out that maritime transport of oil and other hazardous goods carry a higher risk since pollution consequences are often catastrophic. The average quantity of ship-generated oil that ends up in the sea exceeds 350,000 tons per year. Similarly, when an oil spill occurs, either in open or confined seas, the ecological damage on the local ecosystem could be massive. In some cases, the whole food chain is affected.


Team Nanoknocks invented nano material from leaves of the Leucaena leucocephala Equisetum through a biosynthesis process that have properties of hydrophobicity and oleophilicity. To render it useful, a synthetic material was used. This combination is coated on a sponge using the Insequential Infiltration Synthesis (ISIS) method. This ISIS method involves expansion of materials within sponge films. Team Nanoknocks provided the layer of the above said material on the sponge and kept that sponge for drying. Thus, such a process enables the synthetic material to expand inside the sponge. It is owing to this coated material that the sponge gets its oil absorption property. The sponge thus made has a life of 80 cycles and is also environment-friendly. This invented material is not just restricted to the above said application but also has application in day-to-day life – for example, it can absorb or filter the edible oil from water mixture.

The invented product used for oil spill cleaning


The proposed methodology for oil recovery involves using novel materials, which effectively means there is no need of extra energy for separating oil from water. Oil can be recovered just by pressing or squeezing the sponge. Thus, the oil gets recovered and can be used for further application. The material is cost-effective and durable as compared to the present solution. Sponge is flexible and can be used in different conditions with variable size and shape. It is user-friendly as well.