This is the discovery that could put the College of Wooster on the map: glass that swells like a sponge. Put together like a nano-matrix, the new glass can unfold to hold up to eight times its weight. The glass binds with gasoline and other pollutants containing volatile organic compounds but it does not bind with water, so it acts like a “smart” sponge, capable of picking and choosing from contaminated groundwater.
The new material was developed by Dr. Paul Edmiston of the College of Wooster, who formed a new company, Absorbent Materials, to market the new glass under the trademark Obsorb. A number of pilot sites are being tested in the United States, and industrialized countries are not the only ones that stand to gain. Obsorb’s unique properties make it ideal for low tech, low-budget cleanups in developing areas as well.