Researchers are working on an eco-friendly coating for glass, plastic and other materials. This new technology will allow oily stains to be wiped away easily with plain water, cutting the need to use harmful detergents and solvents.
The polymer coatings have a bottom layer of polyethylene glycol, which attracts water, and an upper layer of a Teflon-like molecule that prevents the passage of oil. The result is a surface that holds a film of water while repelling oil.
"You add water, and the oil just comes right off like magic," said lead researcher Jeffrey Youngblood. "These are eco-friendly coatings - environmentally 'green' in the sense that they eliminate the need for harsh detergents and solvents in settings ranging from home kitchens to industrial machine shops that must contend with heavy oil spills."