The remediation of oil field effluents is a global challenge. For example, in the United States, over 15 billion barrels of oil-contaminated wastewater produced each year. Cherukupally and Sun et al. report an innovative surface engineered sponge that combines surface chemistry, pH-responsive surface charge, and multiscale roughness to enhance the surface wetting of the sponge.
Their work constitutes a new framework for developing surface-engineered sponges that address the variable pH-responsive wetting behavior of crude oil. Also, it demonstrates the production of clean water by taking up about 90% of the oil droplets within 10 minutes. Moreover, the sponge releases the captured oil for reuse, enabling the circular economy. Their work published today in Nature Sustainability.