US - Soy lecithin can be used as a chemical dispersant to help clean up oil spills, researchers have discovered.
Applying chemical dispersants is one of the most effective ways to help get rid of oil spills quickly. The dispersants work by breaking down oil into small droplets that bacteria can then degrade, explained Ram B. Gupta and colleagues.
However, some dispersants can be harmful to cleanup crews and aquatic life. The researchers investigated soy lecithin, a common ingredient in foods, to see if it could do the same job without the negative health effects.
The team separated the chemical extracted from soy into its lipid components.
Then, they tested how well these lipids could break down oil in water in the lab. They found the compounds worked as well as or slightly better than two commercial dispersants.
Their study, which could lead to a less toxic way to clean up these environmental messes, appears in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
You can view the full report and author list by clicking here.
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