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.

According to EVTN, oil-skimming vessels using its invention can operate for ten times longer than other vessels. This, the company claims, is because the oil a Voraxial Separator collects is much more concentrated than the oil/water mixture obtained by other systems, taking up one-tenth the amount of space in the holding tanks – while other oil-skimming vessels need to go back to shore to empty their tanks, a Voraxial-equipped vessel can keep going.

EVTN also maintains that due to the small physical footprint and low energy requirements of the various Voraxial models, almost any type of boat can be converted into an oil skimmer. A fishing boat, for example, could reportedly be equipped with two 4000’s, processing over 1.4 million gallons (5.3 million liters) of oil and water a day.

The company is currently developing its own, ready-to-go oil skimming vessel. At under 40 feet (12 meters) in length, it would utilize two 4000’s. A similar planned vessel would sport dual 8000’s, capable of processing 14 million gallons (53 million liters) of oily water per day. EVTN proposes that drilling rigs, tankers and marinas could keep such a vessel on standby, ready to spring into action as soon as oil is spilled.