Watch: This amazing sponge could be a game changer for cleaning oil spills

Why this foam made out of plastics could be such a valuable tool.

This is a story about an amazing sponge.

No seriously, bear with us, because the benefits of this sponge could be monumental when it comes to cleaning up oil spills.

It's the work of Seth Darling and a team at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illnois, who according to New Scientist created a sponge that attracts and soaks up oil molecules in water.

Not only is the sponge super absorbent – able to hold up to 90 times its weight – but it has a huge advantage over other clean-up measures because it can be reused (up to 100 times). And so can the oil that is squeezed out of it.

New Scientist explains it's a "simple foam" made of polyurethane or polyimide plastics, which is coated with "oil-loving" silane molecules.

Here's a video showing how it all works:

The product could be a game changer, with Popular Mechanics noting there are currently a number of tools cleanup crews use to separate oil and water. But they are described as "slow or expensive or both."

There is a sponge currently used called a "sorbent boom," the website explains, which can soak up three to 70 times its weight in oil. However they can only be used once.

The foam has yet to be tested under the pressure of the deep sea, but tests conducted so far suggest it could be used effectively when clearing up small spills or spills near shores.

This story is part of our Best of the Web section – which is just cool stuff we find online and want to share with you.

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