Title : Nanotechnology: The emerging field for remediation, restoration and cleanup of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon spillage
One of the greatest disasters to humanity across the globe up to date is the imperilling of biota as a result of environmental pollution caused by petroleum hydrocarbon through oil spillage. Oil spillage is referred to as the anthropogenic release of liquid petroleum hydrocarbons into the natural environment. It is evident that the entire humanity rely heavily on crude oil because of the huge benefits it offers as a limitless source of energy that drives further advancements, industrialization and economic prosperity across the world. What this simply means is that, for as long as the demand and utilization of crude oil keeps rising, its exploration and production will inevitably exacerbate the degradation and deprivation of the environment directly or indirectly.
Torrents of negative impacts abound from liquid petroleum hydrocarbon spillage. These include horrendous damage to marine ecosystem, loss of fertile land/soil for vegetation, soil erosion and flooding, extirpation of air and water quality, obliteration of trees and plants, extinction of humans and animals, socio-economic catastrophe (poverty and hunger), annihilation of infrastructures as well as irreparable damage to humans ( respiratory damage, liver and kidney damage, decreased immunity, increased cancer risks, reproductive damage and higher levels of some toxics like heavy metals). All of these undesirable consequences of crude oil spillage have necessitated the need over the years to proffer effective solutions to the challenges of oil spills.
Numerous conventional approaches such as the use of sorbents, use of dispersants, bioremediation, burning as well as use of skimmers and boom have been devised over the years in the removal of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon from contaminated sites globally. None of these conventional approaches hold the key to more effective oil spill remediation, restoration, recovery and cleanup on a large scale due to some downsides associated with them which may even cause secondary environmental damage. What is trending currently in research recommends that oil spill remediation using engineered nano-materials is a more effective option than the conventional methods. Hence, the use of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology may be the anticipated environmental technology breakthrough discovery appropriate to assuage environmental damage through effective nano-remediation and subdue the severity that comes with crude oil spillage in the future. Although, nano-materials for oil spill remediation, restoration and recovery are still in their incipient stage but they potentially offer sustainable novel solutions to oil spill clean up in the future as a result of their improved, superior performance and response coupled with their cheap, simple, non-toxic and eco-friendly nature as in the case of the emergence of nano-organic molecules with special gelling abilities developed by a team of Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. The emergence of these nano-organic molecules otherwise known as Supergelators was reported to also offer suitability for use in large oil spill areas when its technology is fully developed for commercial use.