Published On: Sat, Aug 28th, 2010

Solar powered, oil gulping nanorobots by MIT

Researchers at MIT university have unveiled a prototype of a nano-robot powered, oil absorbing system - the Seaswarm.

According to MIT, “The system, called Seaswarm, is a fleet of vehicles that may make cleaning up future oil spills both less expensive and more efficient than current skimming methods. MIT’s Senseable City Lab will unveil the first Seaswarm prototype at the Venice Biennale’s Italian Pavilion on Saturday, August 28. The Venice Biennale is an international art, music and architecture festival whose current theme addresses how nanotechnology will change the way we live in 2050.”

The Seaswarm robot is designed using cutting edge nanotechnology, is 16 feet long and 7 feet wide, solar powered and uses a conveyor belt covered with a thin nanowire mesh to absorb oil. The mesh can later be removed and the oil can be cleared. 

Also according to MIT, ”the fabric (nanowire mesh), developed by MIT Visiting Associate Professor Francesco Stellacci, and previously featured in a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, can absorb up to twenty times its own weight in oil while repelling water. By heating up the material, the oil can be removed and burnt locally and the nanofabric can be reused. 

These robots with built in 2 sq m of solar panels can auto-power themselves for weeks together without the need to recall them for fueling.

Seaswarm in action - Photo courtesy of MIT

 

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