Adsorptive Recovery of Crude Oil Microdroplets from Wastewater Using Surface Engineered Sponges

In the US, the oil industry produces over 15 billion barrels of wastewater contaminated with crude oil microdroplets annually. Current technologies are unable to remove these microdroplets at different pH conditions. Herein, an innovative surface engineered sponge (SenS) was designed by combining surface chemistry, surface charge, roughness, and surface energy. Under all pH conditions, the SEnS rapidly adsorbed oil microdroplets with 95-99% removal efficiency. The adsorbed oil was recovered at ambient conditions while the cleaned SEnS was reused for five times for crude oil adsorption. Due to the process efficacy, sponge reuse, and oil recovery, this adsorptive-recovery method using SEnS demonstrates great potential for the industrial recovery of oil from wastewater.