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Osorb is a swellable, organically modified silica or glass capable of absorbing volatile organic compounds and other contaminants from water. It is used for in situ remediation of contaminated water or soil. It is a trademark of ABSMaterials, Inc.


Dr. Paul Edmiston of the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, discovered Osorb while working on a sensor to detect trinitrotoluene. This specific glass, at the time being studied by Dr. Edmiston and an undergraduate, Colleen Burkett, exhibited a very unusual characteristic: the glass immediately swelled with the addition of neat acetone .[1][2] Dr. Edmiston continues to examine Osorb's capabilities and characteristics in a variety of field applications.


The material is extremely absorptive, but also hydrophobic. As a result, it is able to scavenge volatile organics, hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, and other contaminants and oils from water. The Osorb can then be thermally regenerated for reuse, and any absorbed chemical can be recollected.[3]

Absorbing the targeted compounds[edit]

Osorb is capable of capturing "a wide range of neat, dissolved, or vapor-phase organics from water."[4] The process of absorption is mechanical rather than chemical, as the molecules expand to pull virtually any uncharged, organic molecule into their matrix. At the nano-level, the flexibly linked particles function like a sponge that can be rinsed and reused.[5] Osorb is observed to swell up to 8 times its own weight and maintains its structural integrity up to 20,000 times its weight.[6][7]

Recovering absorbed substances[edit]

Osorb "can be easily regenerated over 100 times. Absorbed contaminants can be removed by mild thermal treatment or solvent rinsing. Any absorbed organics can then be properly disposed of or recycled."[8] The entire cyclical process of use and reuse produces zero toxic air discharge (unlike air stripping), no toxic daughter products, and no waste that needs to be landfilled.[9][10]

Embedding glass in metals[edit]

When embedding Osorb with reactive metals, the material can catalytically dechlorinate certain halogenated contaminants. "Chlorinated solvent plumes are captured in the Osorb glass matrix and forced against a metal catalyst. The catalyst reaction reduces the organic pollutants to salts and harmless byproducts."[11]

Osorb embedded with zerovalent iron is used to remediate groundwater for in situ injections. Another version of the material embedded in palladium is used for ex situ remediation.[12]

ABS has also modified Osorb by embedding catalytic metals inside its matrix. These modified versions act like a catalytic converter in a car and reduce chlorinated solvents to salts and harmless gases.[13] As a result, Osorb is generally more energy- and cost-efficient and more sustainable than other prevalent remediation methods.[14][15]

Uses of Osorb[edit]

The central use for Osorb continues to be the remediation of "ground, surface, and municipal water."[16] ABSMaterials, Inc. currently applies Osorb to its water treatment systems, which include in situ Osorb injections, ex situ VOCEater units, and bioswale/bioretention systems.

Remediation of TCE, PCE, and chlorinated solvents[edit]

Osorb is in early-stage and pilot-stage commercial testing. The most common usage is the clean-up of TCE, PCE or related chlorinated solvents. The Ohio EPA conducted successful testing at a TCE plume from an abandoned industrial site [17] In West Lafayette, Ohio, the US EPA has included Osorb as a suggested material for this type of remediation.[18]

Water treatment[edit]

The Osorb material has been founded by National Science Foundation(NSF) and US Department of Energy SBIR funds to demonstrate effectiveness in treating complex oil field water.[19] The DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory completed testing that "confirmed [Osorb] can remove more than 99 percent of oil and grease from water." [20] The NSF has also produced a video of the inventor, Dr. Paul Edmiston, demonstrating the effectiveness of the treatment.[21] The company has two mobile units being demonstrated at various sites where produced water is being processed. A separate business entity, PWAbsorbents, is conducting these pilots.[22]


  1. ^ http://www.the-daily-record.com/news/article/4701803
  2. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTOboHlcF0Q
  3. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/osorb
  4. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/osorb
  5. ^ http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_videos.jsp?cntn_id=118400&media_id=68996&org=NSF
  6. ^ http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=17403
  7. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u4fBL-qzDI
  8. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/osorb
  9. ^ http://www.pollutionissues.com/Pl-Re/Pollution-Shifting.html
  10. ^ http://www.e4s.org/Who%20We%20Are/Champions%20of%20Sustainability/Deanna%20Pickett%20-%20ABSMaterials,%20Inc.
  11. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/in-situ
  12. ^ http://www.frtr.gov/pdf/meetings/may10/presentations/edmiston-presentation.pdf
  13. ^ http://www.e4s.org/Who%20We%20Are/Champions%20of%20Sustainability/Deanna%20Pickett%20-%20ABSMaterials,%20Inc.
  14. ^ http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=17403
  15. ^ http://www.frtr.gov/pdf/meetings/may10/presentations/edmiston-presentation.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/
  17. ^ http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyNET.exe/P1008928.txt?ZyActionD=ZyDocument&Client=EPA&Index=2006%20Thru%202010&Docs=&Query=542N10004%20or%20CLU%20or%20EPA%20or%20Aug&Time=&EndTime=&SearchMethod=1&TocRestrict=n&Toc=&TocEntry=&QField=pubnumber^%22542N10004%22&QFieldYear=&QFieldMonth=&QFieldDay=&UseQField=pubnumber&IntQFieldOp=1&ExtQFieldOp=1&XmlQuery=&File=D%3A\ZYFILES\INDEX%20DATA\06THRU10\TXT\00000020\P1008928.txt&User=ANONYMOUS&Password=anonymous&SortMethod=h%7C-&MaximumDocuments=10&FuzzyDegree=0&ImageQuality=r75g8/r75g8/x150y150g16/i425&Display=p%7Cf&DefSeekPage=x&SearchBack=ZyActionL&Back=ZyActionS&BackDesc=Results%20page&MaximumPages=1&ZyEntry=4
  18. ^ http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyNET.exe/P1008928.txt?ZyActionD=ZyDocument&Client=EPA&Index=2006%20Thru%202010&Docs=&Query=542N10004%20or%20CLU%20or%20EPA%20or%20Aug&Time=&EndTime=&SearchMethod=1&TocRestrict=n&Toc=&TocEntry=&QField=pubnumber^%22542N10004%22&QFieldYear=&QFieldMonth=&QFieldDay=&UseQField=pubnumber&IntQFieldOp=1&ExtQFieldOp=1&XmlQuery=&File=D%3A\ZYFILES\INDEX%20DATA\06THRU10\TXT\00000020\P1008928.txt&User=ANONYMOUS&Password=anonymous&SortMethod=h%7C-&MaximumDocuments=10&FuzzyDegree=0&ImageQuality=r75g8/r75g8/x150y150g16/i425&Display=p%7Cf&DefSeekPage=x&SearchBack=ZyActionL&Back=ZyActionS&BackDesc=Results%20page&MaximumPages=1&ZyEntry=4
  19. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/awards
  20. ^ http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffmcmahon/2011/05/02/fracking-pollution-may-be-solved-doe-says/
  21. ^ http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_videos.jsp?cntn_id=118400&media_id=68996&org=NSF
  22. ^ http://www.pwabsorbents.com/produced-water-unit-1
  1. ^ http://www.the-daily-record.com/news/article/4701803
  2. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTOboHlcF0Q
  3. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u4fBL-qzDI
  4. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/osorb
  5. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/osorb
  6. ^ http://www.absmaterials.com/in-situ