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$20,000 Solar Powered Autonomous Robots to Clean up Oil Spills

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The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has determined the emergence of a new market for technologies that could handle and remedy such problems. BP deployed an oil-separating centrifuge system made by Ocean Therapy Solutions in June. Another solution was turning to oil-hungry bacteria grown in the lab.

This green remedy could help “clean the hard-to-reach oil pockets that occur when oil mixes with sand and organic matter on beaches and forms a thin layer on the gulf’s precious waterways”, acording to ScienceDaily.

Researches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with another innovation that consists in swarms of oil-absorbing robots. The device designed by Carlo Ratti and Assaf Biderman is essentially a solar-powered conveyor belt made up of a nanowire mesh, capable of absorbing up to 20 times its weight in oil.

These devices work in groups of thousands, coordinating and interacting with each other using satellite coordinates and wireless technology. Researchers say that a team of 5,000 to 10,000 units can actually lap up an oil spill that equals the surface of BP’s Macondo within a month.

In addition, Mr. Ratti explained that the devices burn the oil they collect, which allows them to work uninterrupted. Mr. Ratti has already patented the technology and is expecting to deals with investors.

[Source: New York Times]

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