Machine Could Separate Oil and Water in Gulf Spill

We all know that oil and water don't mix. A company called EVTN has turned that fact into a business.

Offshore supply vessels assist and observe the worksite of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.
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Offshore supply vessels assist and observe the worksite of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

EVTN makes something called a Voraxial Separator. John DiBella, COO of EVTN, says the Voraxial Separator, or perhaps 20 of them, should be deployed on ships in the Gulf of Mexico, in response to the BP oil spill.

The Voraxial Separater is a machine that comes in several different sizes and can separate large volumes of oil and water, or liquids and solids, at a rapid rate. (Watch video below for further explanation.)

It can be situated on land, near the shoreline, or out at sea. It is routinely used at refineries and in mining operations. The machine uses centrifugal force to separate the lighter oil from the heavier water. The oil can be collected; the clean water can be returned to the ocean.

EVTN started out as a high-precision manufacturer building the gyro platforms for the Hubble space telescope. The company invested its profits and developed the Voraxial Separator.

DiBella claims the device could be far more effective in cleaning up the spill than BP's fleet of skimmers. By his calculations, 20 Voraxial Separators could process more than 10 times the amount of oily water now being processed by more than 90 boats.

Initially, EVTN submitted all its information to BP and got a form letter response. Now things are looking up; they've gotten a follow-up letter saying BP is evaluating their technology.

DiBella says that no matter what happens with BP, the company will proceed on its own. "We want to go to New Orleans to demonstrate our technology to the Parish Presidents. We're in the process now of putting a machine on a vessel and deploying it. We want to show our stuff, and show it can work," DiBella says.

The odd thing, he says, is that BP has already used a Voraxial, on an oil spill in Trinidad. That doesn't seem to have sped up the process. But DiBella is hopeful they will get BP's or the government's attention, saying, "It's a crime what's happening right now out in the Gulf."

Wednesday on "Power Lunch" at 1pm ET, Steve Kennedy of Bioremediation will demonstrate another possible solution for cleaning up the gulf disaster: microbes that can eat oil.