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More Chemistry Aids Gulf Cleanup

C&EN recently took a closer look at the chemical dispersants being used to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In the current state-of-the-art application, the team, led by BP, is pumping Nalco’s dispersant about a mile underwater, at the site of the leak.

Late yesterday afternoon, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson reported that the effort overall has used 430,000 gallons of dispersants, and has ordered over 800,000 gallons more.

Meanwhile, my colleague Lauren Wolf brought to my attention another substance that is being used in a somewhat more limited fashion in an effort to gather up oil before it reaches shore on Dauphin Island, AL.

The product, called C.I.Agent, made by C.I.Agent Solutions, is described by the company as an environmentally-friendly and non-toxic blend of petroleum-based polymers.  In a video posted on the firm’s website, C.I.Agent looks like a white powder. The video shows the powder sticking to liquid diesel fuel and turning it into a soft, plasticy mass that can then be removed from water.

The material is being given a trial run off the Gulf coast as part of a beach-protecting bunker system. A reporter-blogger from the LA Times was on the scene on Dauphin Island and posted a report with photos.

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