The problem with the spread of Sosnovsky’s hogweed, which causes dermatitis and severe burns and uncontrollably captures vast territories, is acute in Russia. But soon, it seems, the poisonous plant will become less. Scientists have figured out how to use it to make technical water cleaner and save the seas from oil products.
Breeder Pyotr Vavilov is considered the main culprit for the wide distribution of Sosnovsky’s hogweed in our country. In the late 1940s, he proposed using an unpretentious weed that then grew in the USSR in the Caucasus and Transcaucasia to restore post-war agriculture. The scientist believed that cow parsnip could become a cheap and high-calorie feed for livestock, so it should be bred on pastures and next to them. Vavilov’s theory began to be put into practice, but it turned out that milk from cows fed on umbrellas is bitter and quickly turns sour. Over time, livestock breeders began to abandon hogweed. Especially quickly it began to spread after the collapse of the USSR, when the fields were abandoned. In 2015, the plant was recognized as a weed and excluded from crops, but this did not make it smaller – once it got into the fields, the wild grass inevitably spreads to all free spaces. Now more than a third of farmland is occupied by harmful umbrellas, and the hogweed continues to occupy new territories.
In July 2021, employees of the Russian State University of Oil and Gas. THEM. Gubkin invented and patented a method for the production of an effective carbonized sorbent from a dangerous weed, with which you can quickly clean fresh and salt water from accidental spills of oil and oil products. The sorbent actively absorbs pollutants in just 1.5 hours.
“The sorbent with a high degree of buoyancy has a large sorption capacity. Compared to known organic analogues, the sorption capacity of the sorbent from Sosnovsky’s hogweed is on average 50% higher,” says the head of the laboratory of the Department of Metal Science and Nonmetallic Materials of the University. Gubkin, candidate of technical sciences Yuri Dubinov.
If we start mass-collecting hogweed for the production of a sorbent, this will help achieve not only environmental goals, but also reduce its distribution, scientists are sure.
Everything is fine, but the question arises: will there be entrepreneurs who are ready to produce the sorbent so necessary to preserve the environment?