Increasing Carbon Nanosponge Oil Absorbency through Infusion of Boron

Friday, 13 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Nhu Q. Le, Bradenton, FL
This project was formulated after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill occurred, with the aim of increasing the efficiency of oil spill clean-up using inexpensive and resilient materials. The initial idea was to see how boron effects carbon nanosponge’s absorbency of oil since the addition of boron increases pore size of nanosponges. While research Rice University has been successful at developing this technique, the optimization of oil absorbency has not been tested.  25 grams of boron infused carbon nanosponge were synthesized in certain ratios of boron to nanosponge and were tested to determine amount of oil absorbed, from a 5ml of oil sample. Absorbency was measured in terms of the amount of oil absorbed vs. the initial amount. The data shows as the ratio of boron infused carbon nanosponge increased, so did the absorbency of the sponge. This is due to the properties of boron increasing the pore size of the carbon nanosponge. The sponges with the 3:1, 1:1 , and no boron absorbed 70% , 40% , and 20% of the oil respectively, while the 5:1 ratio absorbed nearly 100% of the oil. The results of the project show that sponges with higher amounts of boron infused into them are able to achieve the special properties of boron that helped increased the surface area and the extremely oleophilic nature of the sponge. The outcome of the study will allow for not only the advancements of traditional oil spill clean-up methods, but chemical clean-ups as well.