Moss is possible oil-slick mopper

March 1, 1996

A Cardiff academic who has been testing a new method of oil spill clean-up says it could have made a great contribution to mopping up the oil released by the tanker Sea Empress at Milford Haven, writes Aisling Irwin.

Chris Wooldridge, lecturer in marine geography at Cardiff University, says that Sphagnum moss could be the ideal clean-up material. He and his students have been testing it at Angle on the south side of the harbour.

The moss grows, often abundantly, in habitats such as bogs, moors and marshes. It is packed with dead cells which are highly absorbent.

Unlike other candidates for oil-absorption such as straw or plastic, the moss does not release the oil afterwards, if, for example, it is squeezed. Once the moss has trapped the oil it can be compacted and burnt for energy.

Dr Wooldridge said that the moss is a by-product of the Finnish peat-burning energy industry.

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