ORLANDO, Fla. — A group of students at University of Central Florida are working to develop a special sponge aimed at cleaning oil spills.

  • UCF students developing sponge to clean oil spills
  • Students showed off sponge to EPA in D.C.
  • The group eventually want to see it used commercially 

The students just returned from Washington, D.C. where they had the chance to show it off to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Spectrum News 13 met with the students Wednesday as they demonstrated how it works.

“It’s a sponge that rejects water and loves oil,” said UCF Civil Engineer Hernan Sabau.

The sponges are attached to tubing on a vessel, and the special sponges will go into the water where the oil is. They showed a simulation of how it works Wednesday.

“With the help of the pump it sucks in and basically the sponges are selectively permeable so they only let threw the oil,” said UCF student Dwight Davis.

Sabau is from Mexico, and when the BP Horizon oil spill hit the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, it was a motivation for him to find a solution to clean oil.

“See if a better way to combat oils that reside within the oceanic conditions,” Sabau said.

Davis said it was a lot of hard work to create the right sponge.

 “What ratios to use to get the correct sponges, there were a lot of failed sponges,” Davis said.

The group presented to the project to the EPA and others at the National Substainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. over the weekend.

“They were very eager to get it out there, because they knew it had some potential,” Sabau said.

They tell Spectrum News 13 they are stopping there. They are looking at ways to improve the process and want to try it on a larger scale. Some want to see if it can be used commercially.