Policy / Systems / Technology

June 1, 2013


Kyoto University Develops Marshmallow Gel to Efficiently Separate Oil from Water

Keywords: Chemicals Environmental Technology University / Research institute 

JFS/Kyoto University Develops Marshmallow Gel to Efficiently Separate Oil from Water
Copyright Kyoto University

A team of researchers at the Graduate School of Science and the Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University has developed a soft porous material (marshmallow gel) that works as an effective medium for water/oil separation in crude-oil-recovery, as well as in analytical chemistry, according to an announcement on January 11, 2013.

By using the marshmallow gel, separation and recovery of oil from water can be performed quickly, like squeezing a sponge, because of the high-hydrophobic properties of the marshmallow gel surface. Moreover, the gel can be used in a wider temperature range than existing organic polymer materials, as the gel is stable at temperatures higher than 300 degrees Celsius while other organic polymers are decomposed, and it has a tenuous network structure comprising silicon-oxygen bonds that does not become brittle, even at temperatures as low as minus 130 degrees Celsius.

The starting material can be procured at low cost and the synthetic process is simple. Furthermore, new applications of the gel can be found that necessitate flexibility, even at low temperatures.

The team intends to extend their research and clarify details of the gel's characteristics as a separation medium using gels having various surface organic groups. The development of the gel is expected to represent a major advance in analytical chemistry and will accelerate various research avenues, including water quality measurement, environmental chemistry and pharmaceutical production.