Although it was approved by the US Coast Guard, it has not yet been used by BP. This is what seemed to have happened:
The biggest reason for the lack of interest in the Smart Sponge, according to Rink, is the strange business of oil-spill cleanup. Oil firms don’t typically deploy their own skimmers or towel-wielding employees—they hire someone else to do it. An entire industry of spill-response companies serves the oil industry at large, and in many cases a single outfit will be contracted to respond to potential spills from multiple energy firms. And for the most part, these spill responders are paid by the hour, using materials that are less efficient than the Smart Sponge but cheaper and more easily processed to recover oil.
Since BP and other energy firms aren’t directly involved with cleaning up their spills, the Smart Sponge fell into a logistical limbo. Spill responders would need to buy and store tons of the polymer-based material, possibly raising their overall fee while billing fewer hours. Rink and AbTech were forced to move on, applying the material to a range of water-filtration applications.
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