Molasses – a sticky yet unlikely industrial spill remedy

Industrial spills and accidents occur all too often. All sorts of absorbents are used to clean them – including gels, foam, even human hair mats for oil spills.

Who would think that something as benign as molasses would do the trick?

New Jersey-based International Molasses Corp. has tapped into an incredibly unexpected, outside-the-box market – cleaning contaminated industrial sites with molasses, where the gooey liquid is pumped into the soil.

Molasses being pumped into the soil

A process called enhanced anaerobic bioremediation – used successfully at industrial sites including a 3M plant in upstate New York and a Johnson & Johnson facility in New Jersey – utilizes diluted molasses as a food source for microbes that occur in soil naturally. As the microbes multiply, they use the infused solvents to break down into non-toxic by-products like carbon dioxide.

International Molasses ships its thick syrup to industrial sites across New Jersey and several other states.

Pumping molasses at an industrial spill site

“The molasses we produce is food grade, which is not true of a lot of refineries which make it below food grade,” said Eric Lushing, Vice President of Malt Products Corp. and its subsidiary, International Molasses Corp..  Food grade molasses doesn’t contain chemicals that might exacerbate a contaminated site’s issues, he said, making their product more appealing to cleanup experts.

The company’s typical clientele consists of food manufacturers that make cookies, snack foods, breakfast cereals, candy and peanut butter.

Isn’t it amazing how more and more we’re discovering the unexpected yet incredibly useful properties of everyday things – even things you’d find behind  your garage door or under your kitchen sink. Wonder what they’ll figure out next?


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