New – magnetic, reusuable, oil spill recovery material

Breakthrough or bogus? I ask readers to help sort it out.

Every once in awhile something comes along that gives us a wow factor. This is one of those times.

What you see below is a frame from a video that shows a magnet pulling oil out of that water using a reusable binding agent called NAIMOR. I had to watch this several times, because I kept looking for the “trick”. I couldn’t find any. If there is a trick, it is way better than “Mike’s Nature Trick” because surely this stuff is tricking out nature to do what seems impossible.


This morning, my inbox contained a letter from Dr. Ivano Aglietto, which begins:

Dear Sir,

Through the columns of your esteemed blog I would like to bring to the notice of all the environmental groups, the development of a new eco-friendly nanostructure material for oil spill recovery.

Mind you, from the firehose that is my inbox, I get emails of all sorts every day with all kinds of nutty requests, and this one could have easily gone into the bit bucket, but I can’t quite get over the image of a magnet pulling oil out of the water, since it goes against everything I’ve ever known about the properties of hydrocarbons. At the same time the maxim “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” comes to mind. I’ll let readers be the judge.

Here is the pitch on Indiegogo:

Environmental oil spill disasters such as the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico may recur unexpectedly. The outcome of such disasters are enormous leading to the killing of marine creatures and contamination of natural water streams, storm water systems or even water supplies. We must be ready to confront such turbulences with effective and eco-friendly solutions to minimize the short term or long term issues.

There are many ineffective and costlier conventional technologies for the remedy of oil spills like using of dispersants, oil skimmers, sand barrier berms, oil containment booms, by controlled burning of surface oil, bioremediation and natural degradation.

A cost effective solution RECAM® – REactive Carbon Material, is developed for oil spill recovery but having some limitations in usage because of its structure and features. RECAM® comes in powder form and not effective for excessive usage in oil recovery.

To overcome the issues in RECAM®, a new revolutionary solution NAIMOR® – NAnostructure Innovative Material for Oil Recovery, was proposed. It is a three dimensional, nanostructure carbon material and can be produced in different shapes, dimensions. Highly hydrophobic and can absorb a quantity of oil around 150 times its weight. Light, strong, flexible and can be reused many times without losing its absorption capacity. Campaign video showcases the RECAM® and the new proposed concept NAIMOR® which needs your SUPPORT for becoming a reality.

NAIMOR® (NAnostructure Innovative Material for Oil Recovery) is a nanostructure material that can be produced in different shapes and dimensions with an incredible efficiency for oil recovery.

Main Characteristics and Properties

  • Can absorb quantity of oil 150 times its weight.
  • Inert, made of pure carbon, environmental friendly and no chemicals involved.
  • Highly hydrophobic and the absorbed oil does not contain any water.
  • Regenerable and can be used several times without producing any wastes.
  • It is a three dimensional nanostructure and can be produced in different shapes, dimensions.
  • Capable of recovering gallons of oil depending on the shape and dimensions of the carpet.

The video was a bit stereotypical for oil spills, using the same kinds of footage of oil soaked animals that tugs at your heartstrings and are the tools of the enviros to motivate people. But, like the fascinating magnetic recovery, then the guy drinks the water that has been cleaned of oil.  It has all the makings of a snake oil scam, OTOH it has all the makings of a breakthrough done independently on a shoestring. We have many readers far more familiar with oil recovery than I, perhaps they can help sort out which it is.

Note: the solar panel on the boat can’t possibly provide enough power to do the job, so I’m skeptical of the entire claim. The pelican didn’t help either.


Since running an electromagnet over the ocean would be rather energy intensive and probably a bit slow on recovery, the simple solution proposed is to manufacture the stuff into carpets, put the carpets on the oil spill, pull them in, and then squeeze the oil out of the carpets using a roller, like the old ringer/roller washing machines would squeeze water out of wet clothing:


Is this a pie in the sky idea? Is it practical? I have no idea, but for the mere pittance the inventor is asking for, $55,000, it’s probably worth finding out.

More here if you want to help back the project:

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December 29, 2013 8:44 am

I’m with you… I’d say it was possible if the NAIMOR material had iron in it. Now, you’ll notice that the picture with the magnet doesn’t specifically say it’s NAIMOR-only, and they’re not encouraging an electromagnet solution. Their real solution is a blanket of the stuff, then wring it out… AKA it’s like a micro-fibre sponge focused on oil… that, I have no real problem believing in, but it’s not especially novel either.. just another specialized binding agent.
Now, that said… Berkely Labs has said that carbon can be made ferromagnetic. Doesn’t sound like it’d be useful on an industrial scale though at this time though. Maybe I’m wrong though. Still, this is really “proof of concept.” If it took them a month to make that pile, it doesn’t really matter, right?
[quote]Although it has long been suspected that carbon belongs on the short list of materials that can be magnetic at room temperature, attempts to prove that pure carbon can be magnetized have remained unconvincing. However, using a proton beam and an advanced x-ray microscope at the Advanced Light Source, a multinational team of researchers from the SSRL, the University of Leipzig, and the ALS finally put to rest doubts about the existence of magnetic carbon.

They proved that the magnetism originated only from the carbon, and that it was sustained above room temperature, where only a few materials stay magnetized. These findings have given researchers a way to understand and control magnetism in nanodevices such as graphene sheets and carbon nanotubes.

December 29, 2013 8:44 am

For a long time I have watched technological breakthroughs that weren’t scams but still, for one reason or another, didn’t live up to their promise.
Even if this isn’t a scam, don’t bet the farm on it.

December 29, 2013 8:49 am

His idea for mass oil recovery sounds like something you could probably do using existing oil absorbent mats already on the market if you put them on a roll:

December 29, 2013 8:57 am

Thereare two tells that this is likely not true.
The claims that this a nano structured pure carbon.
Neither carbon nor oil is magnetic. It would be possible to embed iron nanoparticles, but then would OT be pure carbon.
Second, nano structures carbons are all hydrophilic to some degree, none are hydrophobic as claimed. As a familiar example, activated charcoal is a nano structured carbon, but with nanofatures too small to absorb oil molecules. It is highly hydrophilic. Carbon aerogels have a nano structure capable of adsorbing oil. They are also hydrophilic. And, since the oil is adsorbed not absorbed, they cannot be regenerated by ‘wringing the oil out’. So none of the claimed features comport with carbon science so far I know. And I have 3 issued patents on nano structured carbons for other purposes.

December 29, 2013 9:03 am

I’m suspicious. It seems that they could have used the money they spent on the video and PR material, rather than asking others for money – and only $55,000? If it has value I would think the oil companies, or spill mitigation companies, would be very interested.

December 29, 2013 9:08 am

Removing radioactive compounds from water, is the ‘jump the shark’ moment.FF 4:58…
The only way to bag radioactivity is with an Ion exchange unit…
REPLY: yeah I missed that one, probably the tipping point for the whole thing being bogus – Anthony

December 29, 2013 9:10 am

Pressure from being spun in a centrifuge doesn’t release the oil, but simple mechanical pressure does? LOL.
Aside from a few other inconsistencies in the messaging, let’s assume for a moment that this technology works as claimed. My immediate question would be, why bother with the teeny tiny spill recovery market when the massive and much more lucrative oil production industry itself would be crawling all over this? Many oil wells produce more water than oil. The oil has to be separated out from the water and the equipment to do that is expensive as is the maintenance of it.
So why whine to the environmental industry for $55K when the oil industry itself would throw tens of millions at this if they thought for a second that it had merit?

December 29, 2013 9:17 am

Mr. Aglietto’s credentials look real enough:

Alan Robertson
December 29, 2013 9:21 am

Shades of Volta… it wasn’t long ago that another Italian inventor’s claims were written about in these pages; Andrea Rossi and his demonstration of cold fusion.
Here’s a Forbes magazine article discussing Rossi’s E-cat.
disclaimer: I know nothing about either Rossi’s device or the subject of this thread.

December 29, 2013 9:26 am

Further thought… the LBL link mentions that it can be done with carbon nanotubes. If you apply the same magnetic dipole to all of the carbon in the tube, then the stacking effect of them could end up amounting to a measurable amount. Leave the pieces at each end for the water-repellent “grabbers” and you may end up with this material. This would jive with the video showing a “rope” of the material when it’s done, if all of the nanotubes end up aligning.
“So why whine to the environmental industry for $55K when the oil industry itself would throw tens of millions at this if they thought for a second that it had merit?”
Because the environmental industry just wants to save the planet. The oil industry wants to make money. Oil industry would probably insist on buying the patent to develop it, whereas the environmental industry may just fork over the cash, then once it’s done he can sell it to the oil industry as a completed product.
Seems plausible anyway.

Don Mattox
December 29, 2013 9:40 am

They are called ferrofluids and are iron nanoparticles that are suspended in oil. They are used to keep oil in place and not creep somewhere else.

john piccirilli
December 29, 2013 9:55 am

If anyone believes this b.s. I have a bridge in

December 29, 2013 10:13 am

upcountrywater says:
December 29, 2013 at 9:08 am
“Removing radioactive compounds from water, is the ‘jump the shark’ moment.FF 4:58…
The only way to bag radioactivity is with an Ion exchange unit…”
The Japanese have experimented with Uranium extraction from seawater using plastic sponges. They say it’s economic at current Uranium prices. This was before Fukushima, so now they don’t need it anymore as acceptance of Light Water Reactors is nil in Japan for the moment.
Chiefio talks about that extraction technique here.

Mary Wilbur
December 29, 2013 10:20 am

It might work and it might not. I can’t afford to invest in pipe dreams. I would take the idea to a good capitalist oil company before I’d give it away to the ecofascists.

December 29, 2013 10:34 am

I don’t care whether it is supposed to work or not…
Give me a piece to try out… Against all modern principles I know — but to me the questions are:
“Can I see it work?”; and second,
“Is it economic?”
Everything else is just talk…

December 29, 2013 10:36 am

This and all mass oil separation systems have the same problem. Getting enough oil to the collector to be efficient. The Kostner separator operated at the same recovery rate conditions allowed regardless of the capacity. You just can’t get oil to them fast enough to make a difference unless you have support vessels herding oil to your separator, and auxilliary vessels increase costs that somebody has to pay for. That would be us.
But here’s the kicker – all these high efficiency things do is provide less water to the refineries when the barge full of recovered crude is delivered to them, thus improving their profit margin. All the recovery vessels finally get all the oil they can reach – and the separating technology does not extend that reach nor is that the point.

Leonard Weinstein
December 29, 2013 10:45 am

This and other clean up methods are useful for very small and localized spills. I developed a method to clean up vey large slicks, completely and very quickly, and sent it everywhere I could, but no one showed interest. The idea is at:
and simply uses the fact that oil floats on water and that a enclosed boom pulled in can enclose and concentrate a hugh area quickly. If anyone can tell me why this is not a complete and practical solution to spills like the Gulf one, please reply.

Doug Huffman
December 29, 2013 10:51 am

upcountrywater says: December 29, 2013 at 9:08 am “The only way to bag radioactivity is with an Ion exchange unit.”
And even then, the ion exchange zeolite resin doesn’t care about the radioactivity but only the chemical properties of the isotope. An ion exchanger is hardly different from your home water softener with an H-OH resin.

December 29, 2013 10:56 am

Ladies and Gentlemen
I think it is Fe3O4 finely powdered, that together with oil makes “magnetic fluids”
It was shown at the Venus festival in Oslo.

Leonard Weinstein
December 29, 2013 11:02 am

I made a small scale version of the separation method and have a video of it sperated mixed oil and water. It works perfectly. The only trick is to have a spash plate to prevent entering mix from jetting to the bottom.

Jeff Alberts
December 29, 2013 11:17 am

commieBob says:
December 29, 2013 at 8:44 am
For a long time I have watched technological breakthroughs that weren’t scams but still, for one reason or another, didn’t live up to their promise.

Isn’t that the definition of a scam?

Gene Selkov
December 29, 2013 11:22 am

The difference between a home water softener and magnetic beads is that no special apparatus is needed with the beads, so they can be used in the field. The technology was first tested on a large scale in the Chernobyl fallout area, where it helped remove Caesium from milk; it has since spread into many new fields, including pyrosequencing. (3.2 Magnetic separation)
For oil cleanup, human hair has been used with great success (absorption is good, not sure about recovery).

Liberal Sceptic
December 29, 2013 11:25 am

Its a ferromagnetic material that bonds with the hydrocarbons somehow (sorry not a chemist) this or something similar was demonstrated on Dara O’Briens science club this last series.
It only works when magnetised by an electromagnet so would require lots of energy to make work for a large spill. But it is no scam. Only issue is whether it scales up.

Mike M
December 29, 2013 11:33 am

Oil skimmers also work very well but a president who delayed their implementation for weeks, ( the ones the Dutch offered), in order make the BP disaster worse for the express purpose of capitalizing on its propaganda value for limiting fossil fuels — can be expected to do the SAME thing to any other effective means that comes along.

December 29, 2013 11:34 am

The local rag blog here (Vancouver WA. USA) had a artical on Canada expanding and building more oil tanker terminals in BC Canada. Thiis was the first poster and being it is a sales pitch I marked it as spam.

December 29, 2013 11:36 am

A $55,000 “goal”–really? This whole deal stinks on ice–slick visual distractions to suggest what’s not there. Get enough funders and many $55,000 goals will stack up in a bank account somewhere and then…crickets.

Jeff Alberts
December 29, 2013 11:40 am

Jon Alldritt says:
December 29, 2013 at 11:34 am
The local rag blog here (Vancouver WA. USA) had a artical on Canada expanding and building more oil tanker terminals in BC Canada. Thiis was the first poster and being it is a sales pitch I marked it as spam.

Is that a resarch artical? 😉

December 29, 2013 11:43 am

The ocean is big, oil spills are thin. I’m skeptical.

Tom J
December 29, 2013 11:45 am

Don Mattox
December 29, 2013 at 9:40 am
‘They are called ferrofluids and are iron nanoparticles that are suspended in oil. They are used to keep oil in place and not creep somewhere else.’
You got it! That was the first thought that crossed my mind. NASA originally developed ferrofluid, I believe in the 1960s, but I’m not aware they put it to practical use. Ferrofluid is exactly as described; iron nano particles suspended in oil. And being iron they will respond to magnets, almost like a magnetic fluid – hence the name. I believe some automakers may have experimented with it for shock absorbers. And there’s a Japanese artist who makes gorgeous and mesmerizing moving sculptures (spirals to the gods) using the substance. I wish I could remember her name but a google search for ‘ferrofluid sculpture’ might reveal it.
If someone wants, they can buy a bottle of water with it, along with a magnet, which you can run around the outside of the bottle and watch the ferrofluid assume neat, spikey shapes. The cost for the gadget: about $25.00. Which is a heckuvalot cheaper than the $55,000.00 this guy wants. Of course, don’t be surprised if our superiors in the capitals around the world (Washington, D.C. most definitely included) cough up significant sums of money to dole out to this ‘inventor’ to pursue his research.

December 29, 2013 11:45 am

Alan Robertson says:
December 29, 2013 at 9:21 am
> Here’s a Forbes magazine article discussing Rossi’s E-cat.
> disclaimer: I know nothing about either Rossi’s device or the subject of this thread.
Things are moving along at product development pace. Nothing worth writing a new post about. Keep up with current affairs at . Stable operation at 1,100 Celsius. Next 3rd-party review after March.
Apologies for the OT comment but he started it. 🙂

Bruce of Newcastle
December 29, 2013 11:52 am

This calls into mind the Sirofloc process, which can be used for removing fine material from water that might otherwise be difficult to treat.
You do not need iron, only powdered magnetite, which is readily available from some iron ore mining operations. After treatment of the contaminated water the flocculated magnetite particles are recovered using permanent magnet barrel separators for reuse.
This seems feasible for oil spills too, with a catch.
The catch is it will be very very very expensive. That was the case with Sirofloc we found in practice. Other conventional methods were much cheaper and just as effective.
Recovering and recycling something, like oily magnetite powder, is only sensible if it is cost effective. For oil spills the best treatment is still to let the naturally occurring humble oil eating bacteria do their job.

December 29, 2013 11:53 am

Don’t piss your money away on oil-spill nonsense; we don’t even need oil any more:
It can’t be a scam – look at the source. Find an investment banker in this country and bet the farm!
For the sardonically challenged: /sarc

Tom J
December 29, 2013 11:54 am

Silly me, I made a big mistake in my following comment:
‘Tom J on December 29, 2013
11:45 am
Of course, don’t be surprised if our superiors in the capitals around the world (Washington, D.C. most definitely included) cough up significant sums of money to dole out to this ‘inventor’ to pursue his research.’
I forgot to add one word in the foregoing sentence: ‘taxpayer.’ So it should read:…cough up significant sums of taxpayer money to dole out…

December 29, 2013 12:01 pm

Tom J says:
December 29, 2013 at 11:45 am

You got it! That was the first thought that crossed my mind. NASA originally developed ferrofluid, I believe in the 1960s, but I’m not aware they put it to practical use.

A company in Nashua NH, Ferrofluidics, commercialized it, but never really thrived. They invited me for a job interview, neat place, and while I wasn’t interested, I linked them up with my employer to experiment with a rotational damper they had. Loudspeaker companies use(d) ferrofludics for cooling and damping voice coils, a fine concept for them.
The company self destructed over a stock scheme, see
They seem to carry on as a different company, see though it looks like not all their products use ferrofluids.

December 29, 2013 12:24 pm

RECAM was the iron based system, using an electromagnet to pick it up after it becomes saturated with oil. NAIMOR appears to be a purely mechanical system.
Both are likely to only be reusable when used with refined products or light non-asphaltic and non-paraffinic oils to avoid clogging the pores. The best use would probably be for dealing with small spills around product export terminals, not major crude spills.

Luke Warmist
December 29, 2013 12:28 pm

 In the early 80’s in a large jet engine factory, we had a sales geek demonstrate a revolutionary new cutting fluid in a machine that was working with nothing but the high temp cobalt nickel alloys. The load meters for the spindle decreased 25%, the tool life increased about 30-35%, and tool changes cut by about a third. It was all sunshine and roses for about 3 weeks, when it came time to remove a large steel fixture from the cast iron table of this particular machine center. The hold-down bolts in the t-slots had to be broken off because they would no longer turn. The fixture itself had to be pounded with sledge hammers until it finally broke loose. Super invasive rust had seriously attacked between mating surfaces,  and the weirdest molds in the world was growing in the coolant tanks. Rust inhibitors ruined the cutting ability of the fluid, as did the biocides. It went away, never to be heard from again. I think I’d want to know a great deal more before even considering investing.

Reply to  Luke Warmist
December 29, 2013 1:38 pm

Dr Luke Warmist
That material looks severely interesting.
Just think of turning all those peculiar and unexpected side effects into something that can be used and really relied on, including sabotage.
Iron is really one of my favourite metals and chemical elements. Iron is furter one of the vital elements. No life in the universe without iron. Iron is further a central element, both in the planets and in the periodic table, and thus should be so also to our understanding.
One can do and make a lot of peculiar things with iron.
Use a mixture of 1:1 stinky diesel oil and sunflower oil and spray it on, wherever you see red rust, Fe+++.
The iron nails in the viking ships have kept buried underground for 1000 years. Most probably due to the combination of tannic acid in the oakwood and a mixture of tar and maybe seal or whale- or codliver oil for painting. The omega 3. The same recepy works wonders under the car.
Other recepies are irresponsible and immoral when it comes to iron.
I use natural tannic acid extracted from bark (Alnus incana) by ammonia, for ink. The iron nibs do not rust at all, they keep absolutely clean.
You never see red rust under a diesel- drip at sea. Diesel, as stinky as possible, protects iron.
The reason why you can loosen rusty bolts by heating is that FeO(OH) . nH2O = red rust. H2O then evaporates by heating. If Fe+++ is bound and stabilized by a reducing agent like Omega 3 or tannic acid, then Metallic iron is not rusting under it. A high molecular and fast hardening oil will not have that effect.
If you want to get quickly rid of iron, your car for instance, then spray it with Mg++ and Ca++ salt solutions, that will allways keep it moist. Then use a proper car shampoo surfactant that makes this creep into any tiny crack. Set further on O2 and on iron & sulphur bacteriæ, on Early life. because they love metallic iron.
Titanic is half eaten allready. What about your car?

December 29, 2013 12:59 pm

Daedalus clipped: “pure carbon, environmental friendly”.
This is not a scam on the level of “CO2 is the control for Earth’s temperature”, or the “Hockey Stick”, I think, just creative engineering in need of management review (or investor).

Steve from Rockwood
December 29, 2013 1:32 pm

@ric werme. The CEO of Ferrofluidics was sentenced to 8 years in jail. Never a good sign.

December 29, 2013 1:42 pm

For $380 you can be in Miami and Los Angeles simultaneously:
I’ve Googled for the event, and there appears to be none in either location. Also, the phrase “preserving the environment with nanotechnology” appears on NAIMOR’s site only.
Not encouraging

Steve from Rockwood
December 29, 2013 1:48 pm

I wonder what would happen if you dipped a sizeable electromagnet into the ocean? Reminds me of what an engineering friend who was developing a high current transmitter said. “There was this strange crackling sound, followed by a loud boom. Then the room stank like burnt carbon. I suspected the transmitter had stopped working.”
I always found my engineering friend to be more of an astute observer than designer of circuitry.

Old Man Two-Sticks
December 29, 2013 2:03 pm

Hmmmmm… kinda looks like SIGMA-ALDRICH part #697745aldrich, cobalt, carbon coated magnetic, nano-powder and 699624aldrich, Carbon, mesoporous, nanopowder, graphitized.
at 92$ for 500mg its kind of expensive
look at the RECAM brochures and the SIGMA-ALDRICH site…

December 29, 2013 2:05 pm

Leonard Weinstein said in part on December 29, 2013 at 10:45 am:
“I developed a method to clean up vey large slicks, completely and very quickly, and sent it everywhere I could, but no one showed interest. The idea is at:
and simply uses the fact that oil floats on water and that a enclosed boom pulled in can enclose and concentrate a hugh area quickly. If anyone can tell me why this is not a complete and practical solution to spills like the Gulf one, please reply.”
This is a tactic that has already been used for cleaning up oil spills on water. However, it is incomplete. Many petroleums have higher-density compounds that have density near or above that of water, such as many aromatic hydrocarbons. If the petroleum that was spilled has its higher density compounds being disproportionately less volatile ones, then a slick can change into an area of intermittently floating tarballs. This happened with the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

December 29, 2013 2:10 pm

The best way to destroy oil is to let bacteria eat it.
Boat owners fight a continuous battle with bacteria which eat hydrocarbons, I had to add some terrifyingly powerful biocide toxins to my fuel tank on a regular basis, to stop the engine filter clogging up with biological scum.
The reason diesel bug is so difficult to control, is it is everywhere, particularly in warm water. The diesel bug fungus and bacteria spores contaminate all hydrocarbons which are exposed to air near the sea. No hydrocarbon is safe.

Gene Selkov
Reply to  Eric Worrall
December 29, 2013 2:29 pm

The battle is not limited to boat owners. Oilfield biocides are the new hot topic in biotechnology. There is hope that when a good one is developed, oil companies will be able to switch from expensive stainless pipes to something more affordable. As things stand, it is an uphill battle. Life found in oilfields and further down the line in processing systems has a taste for iron as well as carbohydrates.

December 29, 2013 2:41 pm

I tried reading through all posts to make sure I am not repeating any. I think I am not, but it is always possible.
This type of technology is not only not groundbreaking but it has been used in the past and is currently in use, extensively. Except for the magnetic part, but for an actual oil spill, I think needless to mention the huge downfalls of the power requirements and logistics of a powder floating in moving waters.
I have, personally, used booms with rolls of foam (similar to your car’s seat stuffing) that can absorb 80-100 times their weight in oil…. but here is the first question, which oil?
Crude spilled in the ocean water, after a quick heartbeats (ok, several hours but in boat times quick) dehydrates, oxidizes and looses most of the light ends. It becomes thick and heavy. Good luck trying to absorb 80 time the weight of anything with that oil.
If the spill is in a river, slow moving river, you might stand a chance, if it is fast moving water, good luck.
We cleaned the mangroves in Mexico (remember that spill from Pemex, much larger than BP’s but the internet was not nearly as strong as it is now, plus Pemex did a good job shutting people down? Look up Ixtoc) and let me tell you, try to sneak booms or any stuff through that vegetation, you are out of luck. Yeah, we also pretended to hand clean leaves and rocks, but it was really for show as it was most inefficient. And that is not the only spill I have worked on with these types of absorbants but of course, with a car analogy, every manufacturer claims to give you a superb milage; when you drive real consumption is not quite as good, is it?
I worked in N. Alberta on an old orphan well that had casing cracks and was spilling about 100bbl/d oily water into the Peace river. The greenies could not detect the plume 100m from the source in the river.
In short, these technologies are quite effective if there is a really quick reaction, within a confined area and the logistics allow for concealing the spill (let’s not talk about oils that actually sink in water <20ºC). They have been around for quite some time and some of those foams are pretty cheap. The expensive part is deploying them, recovering them, squeezing the oil out and re-deploying.
Lets not forget oil degrades, the BP Horizon did not quite damage land and ecosystems as hoped… er… claimed at the beginning of the disaster, now did it?
Oh, activated carbon can also do the trick.
Nah, I wouldn't bet the farm or the chicken coop on this. It does probably work, but 150 times it's weight in oil? Doubtful in real life. Magnetic properties? Useless on full scale environmental emergencies. Remote controlled boats? Why, I trust more a captain following the spill. Running a boat ON TOP of the spill? Yeah, on a computer

December 29, 2013 3:06 pm

Jeff Alberts says:
December 29, 2013 at 11:17 am
“… didn’t live up to their promise.”
Isn’t that the definition of a scam?

A scam is a premeditated attempt to deceive.
An example of what I am talking about is “Oil from Turkey Guts”. The process worked. Oil was produced and sold on a commercial scale but the company went bankrupt anyway. It turned out that they had to pay for the turkey guts rather than being paid to dispose of them. Oops! Even so, if it weren’t for shale gas and oil, the price of oil might be high enough for the company to survive.
My point was that just because you produce a working technology, it doesn’t mean you are out of the woods. Even the most honest inventor/entrepreneur can be blindsided by harsh reality.

Kirk c
December 29, 2013 3:12 pm

To clarify….This project has nothing to do with magnetic oil recovery.
The guy is trying to raise $55,000 mostly so he can build himself a little boat. Apparently, the cost of making the “magic carpet”. Is relatively “low” . Not sure what that means in actual dollars/m^2 but the nanorug is still in the concept stage so no guarantees or estimates presented.
He is using $15,000 of the funds to make some trial production run of the stuff. Seems to me , this is where you should start before you bother with the boat. Maybe this just makes a bunch of 2″ squares he can send out as investor samples.
According to his “projections” he can recover about 3 barrels of crude for each square meter of rug he makes. (assuming he gets the max rated 15 to 20 life cycle “squeezes” out of it). Then, hopefully he can recycle the worn out sheets into more new product.
Perhaps he could use sequestered co2 carbon conversion to make his super pads…. The ultimate circular irony for cleaning up big oil…
Based on the usage of his funding I would decline to invest at this point. But….for 40 bucks of investment you do get a hat…..

Mike McMillan
December 29, 2013 3:35 pm

Seems to me that regardless of any magnetic properties, if you have a hydrophobic material that you can make as a sponge, and can float, then that’s all you need for this thing to work. If it soaks up enough oil to wring out, that’s great. You get less capillary action with a non-polar fluid like oil, so the sponge won’t work as well as the dish scrubby in my kitchen sink, but this whole thing might be valid.
Anyway, my check’s in the mail.

P.D. Caldwell
December 29, 2013 3:45 pm

BTL@T – This, and many similar technologies, is non-scalable to real world situations. Actual recovery is sporadic throughout the water column. Too specialized a technology for first responders to employ and ineffective when deployed late or in sea states greater then 2. Deployment/recovery near shore and in areas with aquatic plants is problematics for the collateral damage done to the environment. Therefore, it is not a viable tool for a response to a significant sized oil spill.

December 29, 2013 3:52 pm

Here is a bit of information on Dr. Ivano Aglietto:!search/profile/company?companyId=345599402&targetid=profile
My guess is that this startup company has developed a new remediation approach with some promise, and the fact that it sounds “odd” could be due to translation into English, and/or their desire to mask some of the trade secret/intellectual property by not disclosing things completely.
This is most usually seen in the nascent “algae industries,” where companies are vying to develop technologies to take advantage of the fact that, under certain growing conditions, freshwater microalgae produce as much as 50% of their cell mass as hydrocarbons. My own company has innovations in this space, we pretty much keep our yaps shut.
I’m familiar with other magnetic water/wastewater processes, mostly from Russia. This “magnetic nanotech” process would seem to have a scale-up/economic challenge more than anything, as oil spill recovery is a fairly mature industry, relying upon inexpensive boom materials, flotation processes, and even dispersants (Deepwater Horizon incident). I wish Dr. Aglietto the best of luck.

Walter Clemens
December 29, 2013 4:01 pm

The inventor forgot to mention one thing: if this process is used, it will prevent Global Warming.
Should see the grant money come flooding in as soon as he points that out.

Ivano Aglietto
December 29, 2013 4:50 pm

I am Ivano Aglietto, and I would like to reply here into details. There are many points that have been under your discussion. First of all thanks to share and to all your comments, positive or negative does not matter, all ones are always welcome. Here is the list of answers and clarifications:
A) about the electromagntic properties of RECAM: as you can see in the video there are different types of RECAM. The RECAM that moves under the electromagnetic field is of the type RE.40 that contains inside the nanostructure a cover of magnetite. Of course carbon and hydrocarbons cannot move under a magnetic fiels, it is against any phisical law. NAIMOR does not contain magnetite, in fact we do not move with magnetic fields
B) The solar panel on the boat: I agree it is not enough for all system, in fact there is also a battery. Anway this is just a caonceptual model. We are workining on the engineering of the boat and we will introduce a first model end of Jannuary
C) Is it just an idea or has been developed already? RECAM is a material already in the industrialm phase with several treatment plants installed for filtration of arsenic, groundwater remediation and many other applications. The effiiciency of RECAM has been certified by several international Institute, used an tested by several companies (ENI, REPSOL, LGH, etc.). A Life Project has been approved by European Community to test RECAM in the Water Treatment Plant of the City of Barcelona, in Spain. RECAM has been classified like one if the 30 most interesting nanomaterials that have real commercial applications by an independent study of the European Community, DGXII, you can find this report in the website of the European Community to this link: at paga 179-180. NAIMOR has been produced in small carpets, and this what I did till now. The full development will be next year. The drone boat it is in a stage of engineering development.
D) I have to disagree with Mr. Rud Istvan, RECAM and also NAIMOR are hydrophobic nanostructure materials, like proved and certified. It is nothing strange or impressive, it is normal because, like graphene nanoplatelets are hydrophobic. To be more specific the contact angle is > 115 degree. One more point: it is not possible to make a comparison with activated carbon. RECAM is a mseoporous carbon quite different from the concept of activated carbon.
E) Why I ask for the money to get only 55.000 dollars? Well, with 55.000 dollars you cannot develope sucj kind of materials, but with a campaign in Indiegogo you can get attention of buyers and investors and you can have the result that people speak about the product. All the questions of this blog is a demonstration that the money spent for the video are well invested in promotion.
F) Removal of radioactive contaminants: it has been certified with efficiency higher to 99,9% I just posted the official resulta in my campaign. The material has been proposed alreadz for the remediation of water in Fukushima, but we will see. Filtraion with resin, Ion exchange units have failed already in Fukushima.
G) Is it cost effective? The cost of one kg of RECAM is 35 Euro. Try to calculate how much oil you can recover and you have the answer by yourself
H) Conference in Miami: yes there is mistake, I confirm it is in Miami not Los Angeles, but this mistake will ask to Indiegogo to review.
I) To be more realistic, to show that RECAM is industrial product and not “an idea”, to proove the results of RECAM, the certifications and all other documents you need, you can download all documents, certifications and have all references and even if you want to contact clients that are already using the technology or that they tested. Here is a comprehensive documentation about my nanostructure materials:
here you can download the certifications:
Finally, I am sure I had not answer to all you questions and doubts, but I tried to give some more explanations with some documents, numbers and result certified. All the rest are words.
I accept all kind of opinions. Any technology can be accepted or not, can be better or worse of others, but the word “scam” it is not the right term to use.
About me: here is my profile:
I would like to thank the owner of this website and I offer him a free sample to test. In case he will not be able to do what I showed in the video he is the owner of the site and he will have to possibility to tell all of you the result.
Thanks and please feel free to ask me any more information if you are interested.
Ivano Aglietto

December 29, 2013 4:54 pm

My opinion. There is probably something to this invention, but the use of “buzz words” seriously decreases the credibility of the inventor IMHO. “Nanotechnology” = chemistry. Any reaction be it a physical interaction, surface chemical or simply chemical at a “nano” scale is all still just chemistry. When you throw in the word “nanotechnology” or “nano-(anything)”, you are just trying to stay ahead of the wow factor in your grant request since the 1990s and 2000s were all about “microtechnology” and “micro-(fill in your word here)”.
So what is my take on this. First of all there are molecules that are routinely used in our everyday lives that are capable of taking up water and appearing to convert it to a semi-solid. These molecules are called water absorbing polymers. An example of one of the most widely used one is polyvinyl alcohol – PVA. It is used to pull moisture away from a surface such as in a disposable baby diaper. (see this link to get a better understanding of how they work: If you want to watch a video of water bouncing (the beads in this video are over 90% water) watch this video:

Anyone who has ever eaten jello has eaten a water absorbing polymer.
So the way these polymers work is that they have incredibly high internal surface area that is especially hydrophyllic. They are especially susceptible to the ionic strength of the water solution since the initial attraction and partitioning of water into the polymer is ionically driven. In the bouncing bead video it would have been more interesting if the fellow had simply sprinkled some salt on one of his water swelled beads. It would have appeared to “sweat” and the bead would have shrunk away/deformed away from the salty surface.
I suspect that what this fellow has invented is something similar that works in a similar manner, only he has focussed on highly oliophyllic polymers. I suspect that if you create a polymeric structure that has very high internal surface area (think cotton candy or a sponge made from teflon) where the backbone material is long chains of CH2 or other known highly hydrophobic compounds you could create the equivalent a “super-oil absorbing” polymer. Such a material’s internal structure would initially be filled with air and would be so hydrophobic and light that it would float on the suface of water. When brought in contact with oil it would naturally “sponge up” the oil and oil would preferentially partion into the internal matrix driven by surface tension. During polymerization of such a polymer it is feasible that one could also capture magnetite into the matrix and use that to effect magnetic separation of the polymer once oil filled.
What I suspect this fellow has invented is simply a very highly porous highly hydrophobic polymer – a solid surface active agent, or solid surfactant. Such a polymer would resist centrifugal extraction but could be mechanically squeezed to extract any free oil. But unless some other, better way to return it to it’s original unsaturated state is conceived, I don’t think it would be any more cost effective than the best super-oliophylic polymers used in current oil skimmers. I also imagine that what he has created is quite costly to manufacture!

Jason Joice MD
December 29, 2013 6:39 pm

For $85, I’ll see what 2 square inches of this stuff is like. Count me in.

Leonard Weinstein
December 29, 2013 8:06 pm

DonaldL. Klipstein says:
December 29, 2013 at 2:05 pm
Donald, While booms and skimmers have been used to confine or try to scoop up oil, I have NOT seen a description as stated by me to enclose a large area, then reduce the enclosure. In addition, the initial spill, and for a while after, the oil, clearly floats and would be collected as I said. If the oil sits out long enough for tar balls to form, they either still float, or sink, and if they float, they would be picked up. If they sink, that is what chemicals that are spread try to accomplish (which is a big mistake for both what they try to accomplish, and the result of the chemicals themselves). Your comments make no sense at all. I know some compounds may eventually sink, and there is nothing you can do for those, but that is not how almost all recently spilled oil acts. I have also never seen the simple (and now obvious) separation method I suggest. If you can show me otherwise, please do.

December 29, 2013 8:43 pm

Leonard – separation is not important to oil recovery. The desire for separation is a consequence of limited space to store the pollution for delivery to the nearest refinery. Given the volume of oil in a given area one can recover it all with very ineffective equipment but you get a lot of water with it. It is an issue of affordability and profitability. The cleaner you can make the recovered oil the cheaper it is for the refineries to convert it to product to sell. The problem all separation systems face is getting enough oil to the recovery point. It is thin on the surface of the sea and a gallon of it takes a lot of chasing around with your skimmer. It takes miles of booms in the right place to collect for recovery economically. Fact is most of it is below the surface away from such recovery efforts so the entire enterprise in the open sea is a bit nuts. Where recovery is most important is the intertidal zone for what should be obvious reasons, and no skimmer does a good job here because they can’t gather that oil easily. It is stuck to the rocks and plants that live in the intertidal zone.
A two-stage system that has fast but inefficient skimmers feeding high capacity high efficiency separator tankers is a better idea. The mobile skimmers can suck up all the oil (and water) they can hold using cheap technology then transfer it to separators that put the oil in a tank and the fairly clean sea water back in the ocean. That collects all the collectable oil and provides a very profitable crud product to the refineries for processing. This is how bees work, so it’s not a very new idea.
Now who pays everyone for doing this?
That is a trick question – nobody but the government is going to do that. Why would we tax payers set out to make refineries more profitable?

December 29, 2013 8:59 pm

The animated presentation for NAIMOR was certainly interesting however it was animated and not indicative of real life performance. Laboratory demonstrations are interesting but performance in the environment will vary considerably from one application to another. Probably a good product if it performs as shown in the animation.
We manufacture the ADsorb-it Fabric that is made from waste fibers from the textile manufacturing industry and it provides thorough oil removal from water as well. Water flows throught he ADsorb-it Fabric and the oil is retained in the ADsorb-it Fabric. Many miles of ADsorb-it were deployed by BP as an oil fence for shoreline protection during their release to the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. I can provide photographs of the ADsorb-it in use if you have an interest.
ADsorb-it was tested for reusability by the U.S. Army and testing was discontinued after the 25th reuse when the ADsorb-it had not noticably deteriorated and oil sorbency remained excellent.
Ultimate disposal of the ADsorb-it can be done through waste-to-energy incineration as the ADsorb-it provides a higher BTU per pound value than coal and less than 1% residual ash.
There is more information available on our site at Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions or if you would like additional information.
Herb Pearse, President
Eco-Tec, Inc.

December 29, 2013 10:15 pm

Jeff Alberts
The same guy on a face book site with link to same vid. This guy is posting up aqll over the net.

Bugs Man
December 29, 2013 10:28 pm

Due Dilligence: NAIMOR®? A worlwide search for NAIMOR on reveals no such ®, not even ‘application received’.
Never mind all of the foregoing “what if?” hypotheses. If the applicant is being untruthful about his invention/product it’s walk away time, despite his apparently sincere posting towards the end of this thread.

Ivano Aglietto
December 30, 2013 1:34 am

For Mr. Bugsd Man:
Trade Mark Registered in Italy and the patent is a provisional patent. Document just uploaded and you can find in Wuala as well:

December 30, 2013 1:45 am

Red light no. 1 “NAIMOR® which needs your SUPPORT for becoming a reality.”
Red light no. 2 They’re working with nano tech compounds and are short of 55k ?
Red light no. 3 “verified by several international laboratories”. Oh , yeah, who?
Red light no. 4 Guy drinks from test tube but we don’t see his dip it in the tank. As credible as 1960’s dog food ads.
If the oil is absorbed by the nano structure you won’t get it back out by “mechanical pressure”, so re-usability claim is dubious.
At about 5min in video there is a reversed video sequence _suggesting_ oil extraction. This is a trick.
“Sensor tests weight of carpet”. How? It’s floating on the ocean.

December 30, 2013 1:52 am

The cheapest way to solve the oil spill problem is to prevent stupid cost cutting risks like those that caused the Gulf of Mexico fiasco.
While sea-birds are a concern don’t forget the oil workers who died in the explosion or the thousands in Louisiana who were poisoned by the oil and the “clean-up” chemicals.

December 30, 2013 1:59 am

“It does produce any kind of waste”
FALSE. Since it can only be reused “several times”.

Leonard Weinstein
December 30, 2013 7:46 am

dp says:
December 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm
dp, you do not have a clue what you are talking about. The volume of oil in a big spill is millions of gallons. The water taken in when a film is sucked up is a large multiple of the amount of oil. In order to use few large tankers (or barges) rather than dozens for a large spill, separation is required. My technique is nothing but running the mix of oil and water into a tank with holes in the bottom, and connected to the ocean. The oil floats to the top and the water runs out the bottom. the tank can be filled until it is mostly oil. This has nothing to do with the oil companies or their saving, it has to do with rapid clean up. Skimmers do not do a good job, they push most of the oil aside and are very limited. There is no other technique that would do as well as my stated concept. BTW, adding chemicals, or fibers or anything to soak up the oil is a limited process to very small area, and would not do what I claim, including the post at the top here.

December 30, 2013 8:26 am

Leonard – you are under the impression that a significant number of oil spills are large and warrant a massive response. That is simply not true. Most oil spills amount to mishandling bilge water.
Most oil on the open sea even for large spills is not where your collector is, no matter where your collector is placed, no matter how many collectors you have. You’ve missed the bigger point that collecting and separating are two different things and require different responses. The problem has always been collecting efficiently followed by getting the gathered oil to a refinery without losing your available storage (barges).
Another similar process: commercial fishing which use speedy effective fishing vessels and multiple large and efficient processing vessels. And in this case too you finally have to get your product to shore without reducing your efficiency.
Lightering is the process used in oil shipping. Now here’s the practical problem – who pays for all this equipment to sit rocking at the dock waiting for a spill large enough to muster it, and where is that dock? In the commercial industry the risks are understood and the product is reliably available. No so with oil spills.

December 30, 2013 9:30 am

davidmhoffer says December 29, 2013 at 9:10 am

So why whine to the environmental industry for $55K when the oil industry itself would throw tens of millions at this if they thought for a second that it had merit?

I can think of two reasons right off the top of my head: “BIL deals” and NIH thinking. (Brother In Law deals and Not Invented Here thinking.)
Make that three reasons; entrenched interests in current (or present) technology being the 3rd (supply chain is established, preferred vendor lists are already established). This is an ‘inertia’ kind of thing where the present tech has the edge.
Inventing new mousetraps that work better is a cinch; getting the crowd to beat a pathway to your door to buy that new design takes marketing effort.

December 30, 2013 12:35 pm

Regardless of the chemistry or the physics involved, the main engineering problem stands: You have to get the recovery material in physical contact with the material to be collected.
Oil spills are notorious for occupying many tens to hundreds of square kilometers, each of which is a million square meters. It amounts to trying to mow a whole county in west Texas, edge to edge. Even if you are doing 1,000,000 square meters a day it will take months if not years, and the oil slick will be spreading all the while.
Let the oil-eating bacteria have at it, I say!

John West
December 30, 2013 2:33 pm

I could never buy a chemical from anyone who claims a property of their chemical is “Inert, made of pure carbon, environmental friendly and no chemicals involved.

Patrick B
December 30, 2013 4:25 pm

OK, now you’re in my arena – first, probably not an intentional “scam” as that word is usually used. Just someone with an idea that is trying to find money – impossible with the information given as to determine whether it is scientifically sound. Second, I meet with inventors all the time, the huge majority have no idea how to commercialize an invention or how to tell if an invention is even commercializable. These guys fit right in. Inventors almost invariably tell you “there’s nothing else like it out there.” Well, they are always wrong. They also tell you it has a market in the billions – again, almost always wrong. They also have no concept of all the hurdles in getting a product to market. Third, the money they are asking for is so small that no experienced VC would be interested – the amount is too small to accomplish anything and not worth the investment of time to figure out if this is a worthwhile investment. Finally, I happen to know of similar competing technology that is receiving oil company funding – and that effort will burn up over $500,000 in less than its first 1/2 year of so; we’ll then raise several million for the next step.

D Cage
December 31, 2013 12:10 am

Surely just checking would not cost very much compared to for example climate change actions which to any objective observer have virtually no credibility or ability to produce accurate predictions. Just repeating this test in front of a room full of sceptics would be enough to see whether to follow it up or not and would cost a few thousands at most.
The makers of perfume claim that overcharging is part of the image and if they sold it cheaply it would have not credibility. The price tag is a measure of cost and greed not quality.

Leonard Weinstein
December 31, 2013 7:07 am

dp says:
December 30, 2013 at 8:26 am
dp, I looked at the oil spill confinement and clean up issue after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. I developed several procedures to confine and cleanup large spill at that time, and published a NASA tech brief on the subject. At the time I looked at spill size and frequency statistics. Very large spills are infrequent, but fairly large ones are not so infrequent. Small one are very frequent, and can be handled by simple means (soaking up, dispersing, etc.). I am addressing the medium to large spills, which can be major disasters. They happen about every 5 to 10 years at huge size, and about every year at significant size. Your comments show you do not understand what I am commenting on. If my method had been used on the recent Gulf BP spill, it would have cut the damage an order of magnitude. I sent the writeup to the coast guard, and to all other people I could think of and got a not-interested response. It appears these people, like you, do not understand the issue or value of my procedure properly. The version I gave a url to above is a much simplified and easier to implement version than my work in the 1990’s, based on the need for fast response with easily converted equipment. It would have worked.

Leonard Weinstein
December 31, 2013 7:17 am

dp, most LARGE oil spills occur when a ship hits rocks, near shore, or from oil drilling platforms in near coastal water, not in the mid ocean. The Mexican drilling spill, and BP spill are drilling ones. The North sea fire led to one. several ships broke up on rocks, including one off spain, and Exxon Valdez off Alaska. These events happen every few years or even more often. As drilling increases, the number of accidents is likely to increase. I don’t care about bilge spills or minor spills, they can be handled by present technology.

Paul Westhaver
December 31, 2013 8:06 am

Relative small oils spills occur due to ships and oil drilling activity. Nature produces oil spills naturally at scales an order of magnitude greater than what man is negligently responsible for.
I doubt the rationale for developing cleanup tech on a world scale but for a closed system, or a pond or a lake this is interesting.
The earth itself is the worst oil seepage polluter.

December 31, 2013 9:48 am

If they make it work, great on them. I’m skeptical mostly of the small amount they’re asking for and the budget which has nearly half of that going to the “drone” prototype. I have to ask how many unmanned boats has this team built if they think they can do it for $25k. I’d add at least 2 zeros to that number based on experience.
Also there’s the fact that the EPA has a BAA out currently calling for just this thing, they’re eager to give millions for the development of tech that would do what this guy is claiming he can do for $55k.

Ivano Aglietto
Reply to  iw
December 31, 2013 10:08 am

Dear IW,
yes I understand your doubts about just asking 55.000 dollars. I agree it is nothing, to develope just RECAM the investment done has been already more than 3 milions Euro in last 5 years. I am asking 55.000 like symbolic contribution and if you read to my long post up, I explained that the purpose is not to get 55 K dollars but to create interest in the product and make promotion.
I cannot answer to all other posts here, but I think that the link to documents, certifications, case studies, comments from clients that tested the material and all the links I posted here in this page (up) should be enough to make an evaluation of the technology. I can understand when someone post something telling that he thinks he does not like the technology, any comments are always accepted and can be also used as a hint to improve. What for me is difficult to understand is when somebody just write negative comments without reading any kind of scientific documents and certifications that are available to the links posted. Maybe they did not have time to read, or maybe they do not want to open a critical discussion based on numbers and with a scientific approach.
Thanks. I wish you all a great 2014!

Chris Johnson
December 31, 2013 3:36 pm

This has been my favorite conversation on the internet of 2013, as a highlight to a New Years Eve of reading. Too many great insights and comments to respond to.
Instead, as a change of pace, I will address the serial comments from “dp” and “Leonard Weinstein” as they and everybody whistle pass the graveyard, at least as to how oil spills in water are cleaned up in the United States. Using the example of the Macondo blowout, (Deepwater Horizon), that leak was federalized, if under political pressure. Professionals would understand that federally, the Environmental Protection Agency does not have a “Clean Up” standard for petroleum impacts to water. States do, but not the EPA. For petroleum impacts, the EPA reverts to the only standard it has, the Primary, or Drinking Water standard.
Dr. Aglietto claims that his product is completely hydrophobic. Let’s stipulate that. That would then mean that his product has zero water that requires discharging back into the water body, and therefore zero discharge that would have to meet the Primary, Drinking Water standard of well over 99 percent pure water, prior to discharge.
I think any professional out there knows that the EPA should have been instructed to waive that standard in an emergency situation. We will stipulate that the EPA should have waived their only standard, just to start cleaning things up. However, they were not so instructed. I also think that any professional would admit that even the most exceptional oil/water separation process, in the field, would yield less than 90 percent pure water. I would posit closer to 80 percent, in actual practice, best case.
That was the reality of Macondo. They faced a discharge standard of something like 99.997 percent clean, or the vessels had to return all the way to port and discharge to a Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF). The regulatory regime of the effort was designed to fail with any known technology.
Mitigating 80 percent of the problem all day, everyday, while other professionals attempted to stop the leak, was never an option. Realists may accept that even Dr. Aglietto’s vessels would require lightering to larger vessels and those larger vessels would be receiving significant quanities of water, even if just from wave action at sea. Lightering vessels that could not separate beyond 99.997 percent pure, before discharging water would have to return to port, sooner than those that received pure liquid hydrocarbons.
And that would bring in the Jones Act; they would violate union rules if they returned to a nearby port, as opposed to a port from which they originated.
So, a marvelous discussion, but the science and engineering does need to be tempered with raitional government. Under certain circumstances, the federal government needs to waive the Jones Act. Under most circumstances, the EPA must be kept at arm’s length, when they are a hammer and the job requires a Phillip’s head screwdriver. States have hydrocarbon standards for impacts to water, with respect to clean up; typically measured as Totally Recoverable Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TRPHs). I have found those useable in the field. Not useable in the field, if you are facing the Drinking Water standard.
I would like to encourage Dr. Aglietto to respond to the concepts of lightering ( the removal of the liquid from his recovery vessels, as conceived) and the amount of water he likely anticipates that may fill the lightering vessels, thus requiring their return to port.
I would like to encourage other professionals to address the issues of practicality with other technologies, with respect to the return to port issue, in a federalized oil response. No nonsense about separation to be entertained, allowing discharge of water, that does not achieve the Primary Standard enforced by the EPA. Any marine borne technology that is incapable of achieving the standards of a land-based, Advanced WWTF is hereby called out as a time-waster in the midst of a wonderful discussion.
Thanks again for a wonderful post and great comments.

January 1, 2014 3:41 pm

upcountrywater says:
December 29, 2013 at 9:08 am
Removing radioactive compounds from water, is the ‘jump the shark’ moment.FF 4:58…
The only way to bag radioactivity is with an Ion exchange unit…
REPLY: yeah I missed that one, probably the tipping point for the whole thing being bogus – Anthony

The video narrator mentioned several other things, including radioactive elements and, I believe, arsenic (among other things,… and I’m not going to watch it again). Such claims always set off my BS-meter. While some facets of the concept may be valid, there are a lot of concerns. For example, take the “drone boat:” Anthony already noted concern about the power requirements. But consider also the storage requirements, as blanket material strength required. Hypothetically, if the material holds up to 150X its own weight, that means you also have to be able to tow that material around as it absorbs oil up to it’s maximum capacity, plus temporarily store (and transport) and then offload all that oil…somehow. There are also possible conflicting claims about how many times the material could be reused (in one place I think it said “many” but in another “several”). Sheathing or otherwise reinforcing the absorbent material blanket may interfere with its recycling and/or disposal.
The sheet or “cylindrical” structure would need to be exceptionally strong for many real-world applications — I am, BTW, both a Civil/Environmental Engineer, and an emergency responder, a HazMat Technician. Situations such as the rollup/rollout & “drone boat” concept or the twin motor craft towing a loop of the material could induce large-scale stress. Inland, where I live, setting up booms across streams and rivers is fraught with difficulty because of the forces imposed by the water’s flow (and often by inappropriate installation that tends to maximize those applied forces).
Being able to pick up something like this without the oil leaking back out would be great, especially if it could be easily processed and reused at the site. Klipstein (Dec 29 at 2:05 pm) & Francisco (Dec 29 at 2:41 pm) touch on this as well in their comments. What works in a pool or a bath will not necessarily work in a fast-moving stream, in a remote part of the Midwest (or other inland areas) with limited access to the stream bank to stage and deploy equipment. Another case of “real world observations trumping lab and model results.
In the real world, we have to deal with poor access to the area of the spill and heavy equipment that often has to be lugged in by hand, a highly limited quantity of immediately deployable resources, the occasional cleanup contractor working to maximize volume collected (regardless of oil content) and hours worked (i.e., his fee), the spiller too often focused on media relations and trying to contain the liabilities and lawsuits being filed by overzealous plaintiffs attorneys, regulators who are focused more on filing charges related to environmental laws, and myriad other issues. “… [O]il spills [that] amount to mishandling bilge water…” are situations NOT the ones typically picked up by the MSM and the regulatory herd. That would be “among other things.”
Kirk c, thanks for picking up the additional details on how may times it can (might) be reused; 15-20 is not what I would consider “many” for a material with this kind of hoped-for application. (I’m thinking “many” would be on the order of >50.) Still, anything that can be reused is good, but is dependent on having a system handy for processing the blankets. Again, an issue of logistics for field-deployable systems.
Leonard Weinstein (December 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm): your idea might work fine in still, calm water with an isolated spill, but not in a stream or river of limited width or where there is a flow rate of any significance. Too often on streams (in flow situations) oil builds up along the boom to a degree and then start to slip under the booming system as the oil’s depth exceeds what the boom can effectively contain. This could also be a problem for your proposed solution in a still, calm environment if the oil is not removed quickly enough. This situation is also complicated further when the spill is not halted yet and much additional material — “oil’ — continues to be discharged into the waterway. Also in a stream, I suspect your loop would tend to flatten out in the downstream direction drastically reducing its effectiveness. In any case, a major challenge is always to collect the material out of the environment as quickly as possible, ideally in as small a volume as possible (hauling slightly contaminated water costs a great deal). If your system is intended exclusively for lakes and oceans, then my criticism is undeserved, but your comments left that unclear and as I am trying to spend most of my time with family today, I have not been able to make time to read your proposal.

Partick D. Sullivan
January 2, 2014 6:28 am

This material is likely an exfoliated graphite (with grandiose marketing claims added). This material is reported in the literature as being highly effective (see Journal of Hazardous Materials). The exfoliated graphite was more effective (and less expensive) than activated carbon. Makes sense – a porous carbonaceous material with a more expansive pore structure than GAC would be more suited to trapping oil.
PD Sullivan, Ph.D., P.E.
Environmental Engineer

January 3, 2014 10:44 am

Isn’t hair a reasonable binding agent? this reminds me of the story about NASA spending billions on zero gravity pen when the “clever russians” simply used a biro.
P.S. What’s the difference between this material and graphene? Anyone?

Ivano Aglietto
Reply to  wu
January 3, 2014 10:56 am

Hi Wu,
there is quite a big difference with graphene. Mainly is that the product has higher specific surface area, around 3200 m2/g, but the main difference is in the pore size distribution. I have some scientific papers and other material but do not now how to publish here. The slide number 15 of this presentation show and explain the main differences with graphene, expanded graphite or other materials classified like graphene nanoplatelets:

Reply to  wu
January 3, 2014 11:04 am

Quite right!
Simply a sack of sawdust or milled bark should allways be kept ready and at hand, for the case of oil- or oil paint- spills in the home and elsewhere. It is the best and cheapest there is, an it can simply be burnt, or composted with some chalk and sand and clay.
When mushroms and vegetation and rainworms grow on it again, the problem is settled.
thus avoid obscure chlorinated hydrocarbons and “syntetic” oils as far as possible, and make personal campaigns aganist it.

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