Magnetic Soap Developed, Could Help In Cleaning Up Oil Spills

By on Jan 25, 2012 in Environment, Europe, Science, World Comments
Magnetic Soap
Magnetic Soap
Image Credit: University of Bristol

A magnetic soap that could help in cleaning up oil spills has been developed by UK scientists, international news sites reported on Tuesday, January 24, 2012.

According to reports, scientists at the University of Bristol, led by Professor Julian Eastoe, have developed a soap composed of iron rich salts dissolved in water, which responds to a magnetic field when placed in solution.

The magnetic soap was reportedly produced by dissolving iron in a range of inert surfactant materials composed of chloride and bromide ions. The addition of the iron reportedly creates metallic centers within the soap particles.

To test the new soap, it was placed in a test tube beneath layers of water and an oil-like substance. Using a magnet, they were able to overcome both surface tension and gravity to lift the soap through the layers and out of the tube.

Reports said that this magnetic soap can be used in response to cleaning up environmental disasters such as oil spills, in which concerns have been raised about the cleaning substance in use. A magnetic soap could easily be collected after cleaning, eventually reducing its impact on the environment.

“Any systems which act only when responding to an outside stimulus that has no effect on its composition is a major breakthrough as you can create products which only work when they are needed to. Also the ability to remove the surfactant after it has been added widens the potential applications to environmentally sensitive areas like oil spill clean ups where in the past concerns have been raised,” Peter Dowding, an industrial chemist, not involved in the research was quoted as saying.

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