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A Hairy Solution

Whether you prefer it long, short, buzzed, straightened, curly, layered, etc..., most of us are very attached to our hair. Literally!


However, there is something that's not commonly known about such a common topic; hair is compostable and recyclable! Not only that, researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, are testing a recovery technique for oil spilled in water. The results show that human hair is an effective material for cleaning oil spills!


The idea came from Phillip McCrory, a hairdresser in Madison, AL. To test his hypothesis, McCrory conducted an experiment from his home, stuffing five pounds of hair into a pair of his wife's pantyhose. He tied the pantyhose in a ring shape, placed it in a small pool filled with water, and poured motor oil in the center. When he retrieved the hair from the water, he couldn't see a trace of oil!


McCrory discovered that human hair adsorbs, rather than absorbs, oil. The oil does not bond with the hair, but gathers in layers on the hair's surface. This makes it possible to recover the oil after it's taken from the water.


Wool and duck feathers have been used for cleaning oil spills in the past, but they do not adsorb as well as human hair. And while wool and feathers are commodies in demand, human hair is cut each day and taken to landfills.


McCrory's method of cleaning oil spills has been done in the U.S., Mexico, and the Philippines with successful results. Hair is certainly full of surprises!  


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Sunday, 09 August 2020

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Mining is the world's most deadly occupation. On average, 40 mine workers are killed on the job each day, and many more are injured. Recycling reduces the need for mining.