In the mid-1990s while filming the movie “Waterworld” actor Kevin Costner began working on a way to clean up maritime oil spills. He purchased the rights to technology developed in concert with the Department of Energy after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989. Fifteen years later and with $24 million dollars of his own money invested, he has developed a machine referred to as the Costner oil separator.
Costner’s business partner, John Houghtaling, described the centrifugal oil separator technology to the Los Angeles Times on May 21:
“The machines are essentially like big vacuum cleaners, which sit on barges and suck up oily water and spin it around at high speed,” Houghtaling said. “On one side, it spits out pure oil, which can be recovered. The other side spits out 99% pure water.”
A spokesman for British Petroleum confirmed the company has agreed to test the machines to help clean up the current spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Regarding the potential of the oil separator, Houghtailing further explained:
“We could have as many as 26 machines dispatched throughout the gulf. Our largest machine is 112 inches high, weighs 2 ½ tons and cleans 210,000 gallons a day of oily water. We are hoping to have 10 machines that size out there — meaning we could potentially clean 2 million gallons of oil water a day.”
British Petroleum’s market cap fluctuates around $140 billion on any given day. The $24 million spent by Costner to develop such a machine is a drop in the bucket for BP. A drop they were apparently unwilling to part with.
Originally published online at Hippie Magazine.