BP Begins Fighting Oil Spill With Kevin Costner's Oil-Separating Centrifuges

Kevin Costner

BP has been toying with the idea of using actor Kevin Costner's Ocean Therapy technology to clean up the Gulf oil disaster for the past month. Once we got over the Waterworld jokes, we realized that the centrifuge-like device is actually fairly useful—it sits on a barge, sucks in dirty water, separates the oil, and deposits the clean water back into the ocean. BP ordered 32 of Costner's centrifuges last week, and apparently, the oil giant has already started using them. Check out the video below (hat tip: Andrew Price at GOOD).

The technology is still flawed. Lance Ortemond, general manager at D&L Salvage, explains in the video that workers haven't been able to get the concentration of oil in the separated water down far enough to actually send clean water back into the ocean. As a result, it will still be another two months before the majority of the Ocean Therapy devices are deployed—that leaves plenty of time for BP to reach out to the public for alternate solutions.

In an interview with the Associated Press, BP executive Doug Suttles said, "It's difficult to find the good ideas, but when we find them, we want to move fast." And yet BP dismissed outright 908 potential solutions from InnoCentive, an online crowdsourcing community where 61% of all "solvers" have Ph.Ds or master's degrees. If BP can take the time to evaluate an idea from the star of Sizzle Beach, U.S.A., surely it can listen to creative solutions from people with actual technical experience.

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