How one magic cloth could clean up the Gulf oil disaster

This cloth, developed by Assistant Professor Di Gao of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, could clean the nearly-ruined Gulf of Mexico cheaply and quickly. But how?

It's a simple cotton cloth that's been coated in a chemical polymer that's both hydrophilic (it bonds with the hydrogen molecules in water) and oleophobic (oil-repelling). What's that mean? It can filter oil out of water easily, over and over again. Just look at the video above, where Gulf seawater mixed with oil is filtered out quickly and painlessly.

The trick, of course, will be increasing the scale of this to work with the millions of gallons of oil currently in the Gulf. And that will be no small feat. But hey, last time I checked BP was desperate for ideas, so hopefully this can turn into a viable option.

Pitt via Slashdot