Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne seeks partners to commercialize Oleo Sponge technology

July 18, 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory seeks partners to commercialize the Oleo Sponge, its award-winning, patent pending oil-sorbent technology.

Oleo Sponge consists of common polyurethane foam, treated by a chemical process that makes the foam fibers attract oil and shed water. Argonne currently makes Oleo Sponge in small quantities for research studies, using two key processes: sequential infiltration synthesis (SIS) and silanization. The technology holds significant promise for oil spill cleanup and a host of other potential applications.

Broadly, the partner’s role will be to:

  • Define target market applications and relevant product(s) that embody the Oleo Sponge technology
  • Enable technology scale-up, manufacturing and product-market introduction
  • Deliver commercial impact from the technology — such as domestic manufacturing and U.S. jobs

Argonne seeks to work with a qualified partner that provides a commercialization plan with clear milestones. The ideal partner will have relevant expertise and a successful track record in taking early stage technology to market. Agreements may include up to term-limited exclusive commercialization rights within agreed-upon fields of use. Agreements will include objective diligences linked to milestones that demonstrate commercialization progress.

Argonne asks that interested parties complete a basic questionnaire and return it to Please direct follow-up questions to the same email address and an Argonne representative will respond as soon as possible. In addition, please review the Licensing Guide on the DOE webpage. Although specific language of terms and conditions may vary, the guide provides a general description that may be useful in clarifying expectations.

Preliminary research and development results on Oleo Sponge were published in a study in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, titled “Advanced oil sorbents using sequential infiltration synthesis.”

Oleo Sponge

The original research to develop Oleo Sponge was funded by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The team used resources of the Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, in the development of the material.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.