Nitinol Heat Engine & Oil-Spill Absorber

Creator: Yvonne Shi
Supervisor: Peter Yeadon

The study proposes a novel means to remove spilled oil from small lakes and waterways. A reusable oleo sponge is immersed in the contaminated water, suspended from a curved boom that floats. The boom and sponge are pulled by a nitinol heat engine that is powered by temperature differences between the warm air and cool water.
The smart material swimmer paddles with the absorber, hither and thither, only stopping when it can no longer pull the weight of the fully saturated sponge. Remove, wring out the sponge, and repeat. The final design would use springs that respond to ambient air/water temperature differences that are much smaller than those demonstrated in the prototype shown below and could be aided by a solar thermal collector.

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