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Unmixing oil and water

A new filter that separates the two substances only using gravity could help clean oil spills

Oil and water’s disdain for each other is legendary, but once forced to comingle they’re nearly impossible to separate. Now scientists have developed a specialized filter that cleanly separates the two, allowing water to pass through and leaving oil behind.

Such filters could prove useful for cleaning up oil spills or cleaning water at treatment plants. 

A simple setup using the new filter successfully removed more than 99.99 percent of oil from an oil-water mix, researchers report online August 28 in Nature Communications.

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