NPR

Could Mussels Teach Us How To Clean Up Oil Spills?

A review of "mussel-inspired chemistry" points to promising ways we can learn from mussels to clean up water.
Mussels bind to surfaces using byssus threads. Understanding how these threads work may help researchers address water contamination. Source: Paul Kay

Mussels may be popular among seafood lovers, but many boaters consider them pests. They colonize ship bottoms, clog water pipes and stick to motors.

To chemical engineers, though, those very same properties make mussels marvelous. They can stick to just about any surface, and underwater, no less. The study of practical applications for mussel biology is so widespread that there's a special term for it: mussel-inspired chemistry.

And now, researchers in the journal While most of the technologies studied still aren't widely applicable, research in the area of mussel-inspired water cleanup shows great promise, the review says.

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