Here is a sponge, clean up your mess !

I am not going to send this one out and spam everyone with it this time, it doesn’t fall into pharmaceuticals, or synthesis.  There is a bit of whimsy associated with it.  Because I leaf through what is published in current chemical literature, I sometimes come across some pretty wild articles.  As crazy as the title of this post is, I found this article in Angewandte Chemie and haven’t seen anything like it before.  “A Superhydrophobic Sponge with Excellent Absorbency and Flame Retardancy”, by Changping Ruan, Kelong Ai, Xingbo Li, and Lehui Lu*, Angewandte Chemie, Int. Ed. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 5556 –5560, doi: 10.1002/anie.201400775. Take a melamine-formaldehyde sponge, dip it into a solution of dopamine and then dip the sponge into an ethanolic solution of mercapto-functionalized hydrophobic molecules (eg. (1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorodecanethiol) and then you have a flame -retardant magic sponge.  Not just that, you have a superhydrophobic sponge with flame resistance, that is hydrophobic, high absorption and a lot of other promising features.  There goes the need for the chemical spill kit, just pull out one of these sponges.  It is able to absorb up to 79-195 % of its weight depending on the density of the liquid. Using cyclohexane as a model substrate, they were able to soak up all the cyclohexane and recover 90 % of it by wringing it out.  The sponge is quite stable to harsh conditions, 200 ºC for 1 hour, extreme cold (-195 ºC, liquid N2 for 1 hour), boiling in solvent (toluene, cyclohexane, xylene). Incredible adsorption properties absorption characteristics Scale-up was not complicated.  All you need is a big sponge and a large container.  <==This is my favorite line.   I wish all scaleups could be that easy.  Coming to a spill near you. Have a great weekend.

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