Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China have shown that graphene-wrapped sponges can provide an effective and fast way to absorb spilled crude oil when heated with an applied electric current.

The team wrapped porous material with a thin graphene layer, put the coated sponge in water mixed with crude oil, and applied an electric current to the graphene to warm it up. The process reduces the viscosity of crude oil, thus speeding up the oil-absorption time, according to reports.

In February 2015, global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin tested nanofilters using its patented Perforene (graphene sheets with precisely sized holes as small as 1 nanometer meant for water desalination) for oil and gas industry wastewater management. In April 2016, a team of researchers from Seoul National University designed an autonomous graphene vessel for collecting and storing spilled oil. The graphene vessel selectively separates the oil, then collects and stores the captured oil in the vessel all by itself without any need for an external power input.