2015 Geneva Auto Show

Oil

'Hydrate-phobic' surface coatings could prevent blockages on deep-sea gas and oil wells (P...

As the world’s appetite for oil and gas continues to increase while access to easily accessible reserves decreases, deep-sea oil and gas wells are being positioned in ever-deeper waters. The dangers and difficulties faced in such operations were highlighted in 2010 with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. While placing a containment dome over a leak and piping the oil to a surface storage vessel had worked on leaks in shallower water, the attempt to do the same on the Deepwater Horizon’s largest leak failed when the formation of methane hydrate crystals blocked the opening at the top of the dome. Now researchers at MIT have developed surface coatings that can inhibit the buildup of these methane hydrates and keep the gas and oil flowing.  Read More

A newly-developed magnetic soap could be used to minimize the environmental impact of oil ...

When oil gets spilled in a waterway, clean-up crews will often introduce a solution known as a surfactant. This is a detergent that lessens the surface tension between the water and the overlaying oil slick, causing the oil to form into individual droplets which then sink or get dispersed by wave action. Unfortunately, such detergents aren’t entirely environmentally-friendly themselves, so the use of them on oil spills has been criticized as simply replacing one pollutant with another. Now, however, scientists from the University of Bristol have created a magnetic soap, that could be removed from the water once it had done its job.  Read More

The winners of the US$1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE were announced tod...

Last July, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the X PRIZE Foundation launched the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. As with previous X PRIZE competitions, this one was intended to encourage private sector scientific research, by offering a cash prize to whichever team could best meet a given challenge. In this case, teams had to demonstrate a system of their own making, that could recover oil from a sea water surface at the highest Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) above 2,500 US gallons (9,463.5 liters) per minute, with an Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE) of greater than 70 percent. Today, the winning teams were announced.  Read More

A new system for cleaning up oil spills at sea uses a curtain of air bubbles to contain th...

Although it may have missed the entry deadline for the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X-CHALLENGE, a new technology for containing oil spills at sea was recently unveiled. Developed by Norwegian research organization SINTEF, the system uses a curtain of air bubbles to contain spilled oil for easier removal, or to form a barrier around protected areas.  Read More

Koseq's Victory Oil Sweeper is one of ten technologies competing in the Wendy Schmidt Oil ...

If there was one thing that last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill showed us, it was that there were no particularly good systems in place for containing and removing such spills while the oil is still out at sea. One year later, although many companies and individuals have come forward with their concepts for such systems, little has actually been developed to the point of being ready for deployment. In order to generate some incentive, and provide financial support to the cream of the crop, the X PRIZE Foundation is now in the midst of its US$1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. Although the competition has been under way since January, the ten finalist teams were announced just last week.  Read More

The Lubricheck analyzes the capacitive and resistive properties of engine oil samples, to ...

Imagine if every time you bought a pair of socks, you automatically threw them out after six months, regardless of their condition. While you would certainly always have newer socks, you would also likely end up throwing away quite a few pairs that could have lasted a while longer. When it comes to changing the oil in our vehicles, most of us do take the “every X miles” approach, however, as there’s no easy way of telling if that oil really needs to be changed ... or is there? The designers of Lubricheck claim that their device will save money and minimize discarded oil, by analyzing samples of engine oil and letting drivers know if it’s still good.  Read More

A tar sand sample treated with the ionic liquid process(Photo: Penn State University)

The United States imports approximately one million barrels of oil per day from Canada, which is about twice the amount that it gets from Saudi Arabia. A large percentage of that oil comes from tar sand deposits, in which bitumen (a tar-like form of crude oil) is found combined with sand. The tar sands – also known as oil sands – are hugely controversial, as many people state that the process used for extracting the oil from the sand is too ecologically-unfriendly. A new technique being pioneered at Penn State University, however, could drastically reduce the environmental impact of that process.  Read More

The MOSE (Mechanical Oil spill Sanitation Equipment) oil spill vacuum

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill earlier this year prompted many researchers to concentrate their efforts on developing better ways to clean up oil after such disasters. We’ve looked at approaches such as autonomous robots and underwater separators to collect the oil while it is still at sea, but students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have developed a novel approach to dealing with the oil once it winds up on shore – a vacuum cleaner.  Read More

The first Seaswarm prototype being tested in the Charles River in mid-August 2010 (Image: ...

Over 800 skimmers were deployed in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer of 2010 to help clean up the Deepwater Horizon leak; however, it is estimated that these skimmers collected only three percent of the surface oil. Researchers at MIT have devised a system, called Seaswarm, consisting of a fleet of vehicles that may make cleaning up future oil spills both less expensive and more efficient than current skimming methods. A robotic prototype created by the researchers could autonomously navigate the ocean surface using cutting edge nanotechnology to collect surface oil and process it on site.  Read More

EVTN's Voraxial 4000 Separator uses centrifugal force to separate oil from water

Last week, Florida-based Enviro Voraxial Technology (EVTN) announced that it has received a purchase order from BP for an underwater version of its Voraxial 4000 Separator. Mounted on a skimmer vessel, the machine takes oil-laden water from the sea and spins it at high speed in a central cylindrical chamber. The resulting centrifugal force pulls the water to the outer edges of the chamber, leaving the oil in the middle. Once separated, that oil is then captured and stored in onboard holding tanks, while the water flows back into the ocean. BP wishes to try out their single 4000 on a trial basis, with an eye towards using multiple machines for cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  Read More

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