Sustainable Polysulfides for Oil Spill Remediation: Repurposing Industrial Waste for Environmental Benefit

01 Jun 2018

Crude oil and hydrocarbon fuel spills are a perennial threat to aquatic environments. Inexpensive and sustainable sorbents are needed to mitigate the ecological harm of this pollution. To address this need, this study features a low-density polysulfide polymer that was prepared by the direct reaction of sulfur and used cooking oils. Because both sulfur and cooking oils are hydrophobic, the polymer has an affinity for hydrocarbons such as crude oil and diesel fuel and can rapidly remove them from seawater. Through simple mechanical compression, the oil can be recovered and the polymer can be re-used in oil spill remediation. The polysulfide is unique because it is prepared entirely from re-purposed waste: sulfur is a by-product of the petroleum industry and used cooking oil can be used as a co-monomer. In this way, sulfur waste from the oil industry is used to make an effective sorbent for combatting pollution from that same sector.