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Clean Dishes…No Soap

Normally plastics are not a part of the green equation.  They cause massive amounts of pollution to manufacture, and if not disposed of properly, can cause vast areas of our oceans to be covered in trash.  However, Dr. Jeffrey P. Youngblood of Purdue University has been working on new transparent plastic coatings that may eliminate the need for detergents and soaps.  The hope is that one could just leave dishes in water and they would clean themselves.  If commercialized, this could have a huge impact on the amount of phosphates entering our marine ecosystems.

Currently the coating is applied chemically, however Dr. Youngblood and his colleagues are working on a way to apply the coating using a spray bottle.  In an interview with the New York Times, Kirsten Genson, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Youngblood’s group said, “The oil beads up and then the water moves under the oil, lifting it up so it floats away.”  This essentially gets the oil to remove itself with little to no work.

The technology in the coatings can be applied to many different situations.  The long chains of pollymers can be rearranged so that they have different properties.  In one arrangement, it can help oil to bead like a teflon pan, and in another arrangement it can help wash away the oil.

When applied to filters, it can form a membrane that can can collect oil in water while allowing the water to pass through.  This specific application can be used for water purification and oil spills.  The possibilities are endless.


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