LSU Chemical Engineering Faculty Receive Patent for Oil Spill Management Technology

Bhuvnesh Bharti stands in a labJanuary 31, 2024 

BATON ROUGE, LA – LSU Chemical Engineering Associate Professor Bhuvnesh Bharti and his former graduate student Jin Gyun Lee have been issued a patent for their technology which utilizes lignin nanoparticles to provide an eco-friendly method for oil spill cleanup. It’s the first patent awarded to an LSU College of Engineering faculty this year.

To put it simply, the technology combines lignin—a complex organic polymer found in wood and plants—with alcohol to form a solution that shrinks the film of spilled oil into a small region that can be subsequently removed in an environmentally friendly way. Currently, silicone-based surface active agents, or surfactants, are commercially used as “oil herders.” Their design and poor biodegradability, however, have raised concerns about their release into the environment and their corresponding impact on human health.

“We are excited to have been granted this patent, marking a significant milestone for our technology,” Bharti said. “A key distinction between our technology and other oil herders currently used for oil spill cleanup is the environmental compatibility of our lignin nanoparticles. While we sincerely hope to never need to deploy an oil spill remediation method, in case of an unfortunate oil spill accident, our technology may provide an eco-friendly alternative for [clean up].”

For those interested in licensing this invention, contact the LSU Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization at

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Joshua Duplechain
Director of Communications