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Organic Aerogels for Oil-Spill Cleanup

A small sample of the aerogel substance dipped into a beaker containing water and diesel fuel that has ben dyed red

Forest Service researcher Zhiyong Cai, Ph.D. and his Forest Products Laboratory research team started a collaboration with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation or WARF, the patent and licensing arm of the University of Wisconsin. This invention describes highly porous, lightweight and sustainable organosilane-coated aerogels with ultra-low densities and excellent material properties and methods for preparing them. The aerogels are modified to have a superhydrophobic and superoleophilic surface, thus leading to an extremely high affinity for oils and/or organic solvents.

This invention is jointly owned by the USDA Forest Service and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the patenting and licensing arm of UW-Madison. Industrial cooperators and/or licensees to further develop the technology are being sought. Uses include the environmentally friendly cleanup of oil spills.