Unlike other clean-up methods, the Argonne National Laboratory says that the sponge can scrub the entire water column. What’s more, the sponge and the oil can be reused. Oleo Sponge builds on previous research from Argonne regarding how a complex structure can retain oil. In this case, it’s a cellulose sponge treated with “hard metal oxide atoms.”
“After some trial and error, [researchers] found a way to adapt the technique to grow an extremely thin layer of metal oxide ‘primer’ near the foam’s interior surfaces,” the statement reads. “This serves as the perfect glue for attaching oil-loving molecules, which are deposited in a second step; they hold onto the metal oxide layer with one end and reach out to grab oil molecules with the other.”
As you can see in the video below, the sponge looks incredibly effective. Even better? It can apparently be treated with different substances to attract pretty much anything you can think of.