Nanosponges created by researchers at Penn State and Rice University have the potential to revolutionize the way environmentally-devastating oil spills are cleaned up.

The nanosponges are hydrophobic -- they repeal water -- and highly porous, being comprised of more than 99 percent air. Their composition makes them able to adsorb a large amount of oil. In addition, the nanosponges are easily manipulated with magnets.

“These samples can be made pretty large and can be easily scaled up,” explained Daniel Hashim, a graduate student at Rice University. “They’re super-low density, so the available volume is large. That’s why the uptake of oil can be so high.”

The nanosponges are even reusable. After absorbing oil, the liquid can be squeezed out or even burned off, without any damage to the nanosponge.

Watch video, courtesy of Rice University, below: