Microbubbles in a chemical reactor like the one shown here are crucial to a new method for cleaning up oil sheen and other pollutants released into water from oil drilling, refineries, mining of tar sands and oil, leaking underground gasoline tanks and other sources. Civil and environmental engineering Professor Andy Hong developed the method, which puts a new twist on two conventional techniques: bubbling ozone gas through polluted water and then filtering the water through sand. Hong’s method uses repeated cycles of pressurizing and depressurizing ozone to create microscopic bubbles that are much more effective than larger bubbles at converting and removing oil.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of College of Engineering, University of Utah.

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