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An autonomous oil spill absorbing robot using natural nano-material made from tree leaves.

  • SoilioS

  • The Problem

  • Development of Nano-material

  • Iterative Developmental stages of SoilioS

  • Development of Prototype

What it does

The invented robot can solve problems related to oil spills by autonomously navigating on the ocean surface to collect and separate oil from water. Using cutting edge nanotechnology, Nano-material made from leaves of subabul tree is integrated into the robot.

Your inspiration

Oil spill has always been a serious environmental concern. Crude oil has a plethora of applications. However, it is wasted due to oil spills, and none of the existing solutions can solve this problem. Such oil spills cause havoc to marine life and health hazards to the human population. Moreover, the economic loss suffered by oil companies is enormous. Recently, Russia declared a state of emergency due to oil spill causing 21,000 tons of diesel oil wastage. In 2014, the UN asked Israel to pay $850m for the oil spill. Many such events have caused financial and environmental loss to the world. This was my motivation behind the invention.

How it works

The robot design consists of Nanomaterial, Oil-sensor, Pump, UV device, Battery, solar panel, LED and GPS. The working is as follows, Oil-sensor detects the oil, and the process starts by triggering the pump and opening the valve to the container. The pump takes the oil and water mixture inside the robot and pumps it in the container where the Nano-particles made from the green synthesizing method are arranged in the hexagonal honeycomb structure for maximum adsorption. Due to the specific property of the material, oleophilicity, and hydrophobicity, only oil remains in the container, and water gets drained out. During the cleaning process, the UV device helps to keep marine animals away from the polluted area. Solar with battery backup is provided as a source of energy. GPS is used to track the robot's exact location in the sea and LED help for the indication of the cleaning process.

Design process

Initially, I started with a literature review on various Nanomaterials made from tree leaves with specific properties of Hydrophobicity and oleophilicity. Then I narrowed down my research on four different types of leaves i.e., Holy basil, betel, subabul, and mango. Nanoparticles from these leaves were made by green synthesis method and SEM, EDX and XRD tests were conducted. From these tests, I found that the efficiency of material made from the subabul tree was max (82.5%). In order to carry out surface cleaning at sea, different robot designs were studied. Initially, the robot was built in a box structure with arms. The arms contained Nano-capillary; however, the prototype was bulky and inefficient. A new model was devised to reduce the weight as well as increase the efficiency of absorbing the oil spill. The new robot was designed to be in a meta-stable state. The curves of the robot are designed in such a way that it gives stability as well as hold all the components. The top part of the robot is a hollow dome to improve the stability in water. The robot is 3D printed to reduce weight. The 3D printed robot was tested in a pool. Further, work is going on to build a 2*2*2 feet robot to test with hardware suitable for sea.

How it is different

The current technology uses carbon Nano-particle, and some other uses plastic PVC with a chemical adhesive, which is harmful to the environment. On the other hand, SoilioS uses Nano-material made from tree leaves. The invented technology absorbs the oil and stores inside the container with a recovery rate of 80%. The recovered oil can be used for further application; however, on the other hand, the current products burn the oil at the cleaning site itself without any recovery rate, thereby increasing pollution. The durability of the invented technology is 8-10 years, and the Nanomaterial used for cleaning the oil spill is reusable for 180 cycles. On the other hand, the durability of the current technology is up to 3-5 years, and the material used is non-reusable. The cost of the invented product is only $5 and on the other hand, the existing technology costs up to $750

Future plans

I aim to develop, manufacture, and practically test the robot prototype in the sea so that it can be used to solve oil spill issues and can save billions of dollars. I hope this device will help the environment in a lot of ways and eventually decrease the side effects caused due to oil spills such as leukemia and dying marine life. Currently, I am testing the product on different grades of oil to improve its efficiency further and improving its scope of the application so that it can also be used in industries and household purposes.


The project has won 16 different awards. To name some: Silver award by scientist Dr. Mashelkar for National level KPIT sparkle 2018, Winner of National Level Design Competition Aakruti Dassault Systemes 2017, Article on Oil Spill Recovery in Auto Tech Review, Winner of Design Innovation Centre National symposium Techlligent

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