Jun 24, 2019 | Updated: 04:51 PM EDT

Scientists Discover That Magnetic Nanoparticles Can Separate Oil From Water Better Than The Conventional Method in the Oil Industry

Jun 09, 2017 02:35 PM EDT

Oil covers rocks on the beach near Refugio State Beach on May 20, 2015 in California.
(Photo : David McNew/Getty Images) Oil covers rocks on the beach near Refugio State Beach on May 20, 2015 in California.

Engineering researchers from the University of Texas at Austin has found a much better method to clean the water than conventional way to handle the oil spills and water contamination. The method is using magnetic nanoparticles to remove oil from water that separate oil from water.

A team of researchers from Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin has discovered a new and efficient technique to clean the water from oil contaminant. The team utilized magnetic nanoparticles in a simple process from the electrostatic force and magnet. The lead author for the research is a research associate in the Center For Petroleum And Geosystems Engineering at Austin, Saebom Ko.

“This new technique is really aimed at removing that little bit of oil in that water that needs to be removed," Ko said about his method of using magnetic nanoparticles to clean the water. "The small oil droplets that attach to the nanoparticles are much more quickly separated from water than traditional physical separation processes."

Ko and his colleagues have published the result of his magnetic nanoparticles research in Journal of Nanoparticle Research vol. 19/132. The paper is titled "Amine Functionalized Magnetic Nanoparticles for Removal of Oil Droplets From Produced Water and Accelerated Magnetic Separation."

The researchers are intrigued to see the versatility of nanoparticles, which can be coated with the different chemicals for usage in the industries such as pharmaceutical, energy, and electronics. They explore the possible usage of magnetic nanoparticles in to help oil fracking process reducing environmental footprints.

Prior to this magnetic nanoparticles method, modern oil production separates oil and water using a very expensive, challenging and environmentally risky method. Furthermore, the conventional technique leaves the tiny droplets of oil that are very difficult to extract.

This magnetic nanoparticles method is able to completely separate those tiny droplets of oil from water. The team is currently planning to develop a big enough treatment system to handle a huge volume of oil and water in the oil fracking.

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