Young Korean Scientists Explore US Labs for Oil Absorbent Research



Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA

A team of young scientists from South Korea recently toured the United States to know about latest research on oil absorbents. LG Corporation of South Korea, electronics and consumer goods giant is sponsoring LG Global Challenge as a way of promoting science and international understanding. The four membered team “UPONGE,” whose project is on ‘Secondary Pollution from Waste Oil Absorbents,” was one of the teams chosen to go to next round from the initial 2000 teams, which participated in this year’s challenge.

LG Corporation has supported the travel cost of the four young engineers to tour United States for two weeks and interact with scientists in two laboratories working on oil absorbents.

As part of LG supported scientific travel, the team visited with scientist at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago who was involved with the development of oleo sponge oil absorbent. The ream undertook a survey with citizens in New York’s Central Park about the awareness of oil spill and remediation methods. The team found that the public interviewed at Central park were aware of the ill effects of oil spill, but were not much aware about what do be done with oil absorbent wastes, after they have soaked up the oil.

After completing the survey, the team visited Lubbock and had discussions with scientists at the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University. The team had an opportunity to actually use the cotton based oil absorbent developed at Texas Tech University to soak up oil. Mr. HyeonJae Lee of Pukyong National University of Busan, South Korea, conducted the experiment while at Texas Tech University.

Commenting about cotton product, HoJeong Ryu, team leader stated that being natural and reusable makes cotton sorbent more applicable as they do not lead to secondary contamination. The team was impressed to see flat high plains farm lands where the cotton season is going on. The visit enabled the scientists to visit laboratories and more importantly provided an opportunity to see the United States which is blessed with diverse geography, people and culture. The recent trip was the first trip for the team to the United States of America.