University of South Africa

The invention relates to a membrane technology developed using polymeric material to recover crude oil found in water due to spillages. Although several techniques have been employed for the removal of crude oil from water bodies, these techniques are either focused on dissolving the spilled oil making it no longer useful or multiple processes must be used to adsorb and recover oil.  This membrane technology presents an affordable solution for the recovery of spilled crude oil from water without dissolving the oil or leaving behind super-hydrophobic membrane soaked with oil in the water. The membrane ensures that the spilled oil is effectively removed from the water and recover oil for further processing leading to re-use of membrane.


Oil spills remain a challenge in the oil industry resulting in far-reaching damages to the economy and the environment. It is estimated that approximately 706 million gallons of waste oil enter the ocean annually. Therefore, any spillage or inefficiency in the removal of spilled oil entails economic loss and possibly also environmental problems. There remains a need to develop affordable membranes with effective and large absorption capacity, good selectivity, re-usability, high oil recovery nature, and insolubility in water. Furthermore, due to the valuable nature of crude oil, it is important to develop membrane technologies that are able to recover the oil from the membrane for re-use.

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