Hope For Oil Spills Is A Thing With Feathers

Oil-soaked seabirds wouldn't be surprised to learn that feathers could be used to mop up marine oil spills. Researchers at the Regional Technical College at Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, have shown that feathers pick up oil better than other natural substances do--and are cheap to boot. Michael Murphy, a lecturer in analytical science and chemistry at the college, says feathers absorb 14 times their own weight in oil. Peat, the next best natural material, absorbs less than twice its weight.

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