image by by Cesar Harada CC-BY-NC-SA
Can an oil slick be picked up off the surface and concentrated in to just oil? I did a suggestive early experiment using PIG Mats, a cheap oil-only absorbent mat for industrial usage. They are made of non-woven polypropylene.
I poured a little vegetable oil on top of a small container of water, and then swished a piece of the PIG Mat around. It picked up the oil but not the water, as advertised.
I was able to wring the oil back out of the mat.
Will this work with crude on an ocean surface? Maybe! Any thoughts on how to run a test ethically are much appreciated!