The oil industry is plagued with regular incidences of spills into the environment, causing environmental damage to flora and fauna, especially in marine environments where spills easily travel long distances from their sources. This study was carried out to investigate a simple two-step process for the conversion of waste cigarette filters into a superhydrophobic and oleophilic sorbent for application in oil/water separation and spill clean-up. Ultrasonically cleaned filters were surface modified by chemical vapour deposition using methyltrichlorosilane. The results show that the functionalised waste filters achieved superhydrophobic properties with a water contact angle of 154 ± 3.5°, adsorbing 16 to 26 times their weights in various oils, which is a better oil sorption performance than those of commercially available non-woven polypropylene adsorbents. Also, the sorption capacity did not significantly deteriorate after 20 cycles of reuse, with up to 75% sorption capacity retained. The surface modified filters demonstrated excellent water repellency, oil sorption, and recyclability showing their potential application for full scale oil spill clean-up.
Bibliographical noteThis article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
- cigarette filters
- oil/water separation