InsulSorb© Could Soak up Oil Spill in the Gulf

InsulSorbThe oil spill in the Gulf has brought out thousands of inventors with ideas and solutions that could, potentially, soak up the oil floating through the ocean, disrupting the delicate balance of sea life, and heading for our southern shoreline.  However, there are some solutions that have been tried and tested but have not been deployed to anywhere near their full potential.

True, the most important action right now is to stop the oil flow and British Petroleum (BP) Oil, as well as agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been working tirelessly to accomplish that goal.

The hope is that whatever solutions they adopt to clean-up the spill will not cause additional environmental problems.

CertainTeed has worked with inventor Jeffrey Brelsford and his company S.E. Squared to develop unbonded, fiberglass blowing wool that can be used in booms and pads (and other methods such as direct application)  that are capable of absorbing oil spills on land or water. This fiberglass product is called InsulSorb©.

Because fiberglass is made from natural sand and rock, InsulSorb is environmentally neutral.  The Booms may also be fastened together for larger spills or the InsulSorb may be directly applied to the oil slick and reclaimed in order to treat very large and high-emergency spills such as the current Gulf spill.

InsulSorb’s other advantages include:

  • Absorbs 70 percent more than polypropylene, the product predominantly used in booms for oil spills today
  • 50 percent lighter than competitors products for easy handling and transport to spill sites
  • Dedicated production facilities for fiberglass
  • Can be recycled
  • Performs well in extreme temperatures

The advantage of this product as a solution for the current spill is that InsulSorb adsorbs more oil, is available in abundant supply and can be blown directly on the oil and collected by boat.  The logistical planning to blow the material onto the spill and collect it is the only possible challenge.

This product is one solution for cleaning up the oil spill that has been tested and used for more than 10 years, but if no one is coordinating the use of such products to begin the clean-up effort, the environmental balance, and the future of the fishing industry and tourism in that part of the country are doomed.

Mark Trabbold is Vice President, Research and Development for Insulation at CertainTeed Corporation

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