11-year-old's idea may solve problem of slicks in sea

An 11-year-old's idea to clear up oil spills in the sea has been hailed as a breakthrough by experts.

An 11-year-old's idea to clear up oil spills in the sea has been hailed as a breakthrough by experts.

Miro Keil suggested blocking slicks and freezing the oil with liquid nitrogen so it can be carried away.

The German boy has been invited by scientists to work with them to develop his idea further.

He decided to try to find a solution to the problem of oil spills after watching television reports about the Erika tanker which sank off the west coast of France last year.

He thought workers could put barriers around the slick to prevent it spreading, drop nets onto the sea and then freeze the oil with liquid nitrogen.

Miro said: "I saw the Erika oil tanker on TV and all the horrible pictures with the animals and everything and I thought about it for a while and then suddenly the idea came to me."

After spending a few weeks looking in books and talking to a chemistry teacher, Miro started work experimenting with the idea using oil and water in a basin.

When Miro knew his idea could work he entered it in a school science competition and won first prize in the environment category. The judges were so impressed they told his parents to patent the idea.

Scientists at the Juelich Research Centre where the competition was held were equally excited.

Peter Schaefer from the centre said: "We have invited Miro to come back to the centre during the school holidays in July to work with us on the idea on a larger scale. We are very excited by it."

More in this section

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox