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Mobile sand-cleaning machine

Centrifuge of Kevin Costner fame

Vortex-driven oil-water separator

Spill seen from space

Oil giant BP has established an Alternative Response Technology Web site where people can submit ideas for cleaning up the torrent of oil that has spewed into the Gulf of Mexico since April.

One of the products picked from that process is a sand-cleaning system from Clean Beach Technologies. Oily sand is poured into a hopper and then is moved through three tanks where it is treated with water and chemicals to physically separate the oil and sand.

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Clean Beach Technologies

Ocean Therapy Technologies sold 32 of its oil-water separators to BP, which is now testing four units on a vessel in the Gulf. The technology, which uses a centrifuge to separate the two liquids, was originally developed at the Idaho National Laboratory in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Ocean Therapy Technologies has been backed by actor Kevin Costner.

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Ocean Therapy Technologies

An alternative oil-water separator being considered is from Enviro Voraxial Technologies. A spinning horizontal shaft creates a vortex that causes liquids of different densities to separate. The Florida-based company is proposing that these machines be attached to the sides of fishing boats with the separation done underwater, eliminating the need for on-board storage.

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Enviro Voraxial Technologies

Evolugate is one of many companies suggesting bioremediation, or bioaugmentation, to get rid of the oil in Gulf waters. The idea is to add microbes to consume the oil and speed up the clean-up process. But past attempts at microial-based oil clean up have not worked well, according to an oil spill expert.

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by Evolugate

Sunlight reflects off the oil on the surface of the water in this photo of the Mississippi Delta taken on May 24. The cleanup of the region is expected to take years, with effects lasting well beyond that.

Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by NASA
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