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May. 19 2010 - 10:07 am | 16,651 views | 2 recommendations | 33 comments

BP approves Kevin Costner’s idea for oil cleanup

Kevin Costner with his Ocean Therapy centrifuge.

Maybe “Waterworld” wasn’t a complete waste. While Costner was making that watery flop he began paying scientists to develop an idea for cleaning up oil spills — a large-scale centrifuge that can separate oil from sea water, saving the oil in tanks while returning the clean seawater to the sea.

BP approved Costner’s “Ocean Therapy” centrifuge as a cleanup technology yesterday, according to WWL-TV,  after watching it work in New Orleans last Thursday. The centrifuge reportedly can remove 97 percent of the oil from water.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune seemed dismissive of Costner’s centrifuge when it appeared last week, listing it along with a raft of other ideas people have submitted for addressing the BP’s disaster in the gulf.

But one centrifuge can clean up to 210,000 gallons of sea water per day, according to John Houghtaling, CEA of Ocean Therapy Solutions. That’s the amount some government scientists estimate has been spilling from the remains of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The machines are basically sophisticated centrifuge devices that can handle a huge volume of water and separate at unprecedented rates,” Houghtaling told WWLTV. “Costner has been funding a team of scientists for the last 15 years to develop a technology which could be used for massive oil spills.”

Inspired by the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill, Costner and his brother Dan have invested $15 million in the centrifuge.


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  1. collapse expand

    I’ve worked with continuous-flow industrial centrifuges and they are a simple and very effective device. This works. However, I think the big problem is corraling the oil before it sticks to all the living things that call the Gulf home.

  2. collapse expand

    And Ieee Ieeee, I will always love gooooo….

  3. collapse expand

    Jeff, great pros, great point. Let’s hope more movie stars start funding environmentally-friendly projects like this one. Capitalism at its best.

  4. collapse expand

    While the Lawers are busy filing class action suits , B/P isn’t doing much except pointing fingers, Where’s government response ?? Its like Katrina #2, Kevins out there standing alone against it All, Lets All prayer tomorrow he gets Results, He’s a National Hero !!!!

  5. collapse expand

    Has Google purchased this technology, yet? :)
    Is Tesla looking for a quick, profit-center?
    Have the VC’s opened offices in Costner’s backyard, yet?
    Love to see innovation from unlikely sources…Costner Industries better get ready for the sharks to come swimming and for an in-flux of biz plans from MIT.

  6. collapse expand

    Groovy Kev. Let’s see, one machine, maximum water filtration is 210k gallons per 24 hours. Hmmm… Wonder if anyone has figured out how many billions, no trillions of gallons in the many hundreds of square miles of surface water will need to be treated. Basically, the best pump ‘ol Kos and his investors are offering is one that is capable treating the amount of water it takes to fill a large swimming pool every 24 hours. So we’re talking many 100’s of thousand of these suckers running non stop for how many centuries to pick up the oil. And we’re talking surface oil only. Talk about a drop in the bucket. Idiots – no greedy idiots leading the blind and desperate. I think the ol’ boys with the oil sucking hay idea are light years ahead of Kos and his boys.

  7. collapse expand

    What will the Iranians think if we start installing more centrifuges along the coast ?

  8. collapse expand

    Been in the centrifuge biz for over 20 years… I am lost as to why the “big” players have un tapped this end.
    Only concern would be wear and tear if stainless is used due to the salt, dont forget the “liner” kevin.
    Best of luck!!!

  9. collapse expand

    Am a little confused with the #’s. They say one centrifuge can clean 210,000 gals of water a day, and then state 210,000 gals are spilling from the remains of the platform… I could see this technology working great used on a pumping rig to help clean up any spillage that may occur during normal operations. But if they are talking of cleaning 210,000 gallons of water a day per centrifuge in the ocean, then it seems like a drop in the bucket, even with 500 centrifuges. I assume they are talking about cleaning the water that has been skimmed and contained already and can be channeled into the centrifuge?

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    About Me

    Environmental reporting recruited me 25 years ago—on my first day as a reporter for my college newspaper, when I discovered my college was discarding radioactive waste in the regular city trash. Since then I've written hard news for dailies, including the Arizona Republic, and slanty news for alternative weeklies, including Newcity. I've written a column for New Times, stories on the Web for Forecast Earth, essays for PEN International and other magazines. I lived in an idyllic California village nestled among volcanoes and vineyards until my batteries were full of sunshine, and then I returned to my origins on the South Side of Chicago, where hope persists with no illusions about the struggle ahead. I cross the asphalt jungle by bicycle and el, mostly to get to the University of Chicago, where I teach journalism. But what matters more than any of this is a lifelong love for the natural world. We are all born with it, I believe, but some turn away.

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