Carson technology to help Gulf of Mexico oil cleanup
Tribune News Service
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Like many of its neighbors, CINC Industries goes about its business in a nondescript industrial building in north Carson City without much
But that’s changing as millions of gallons of oil continue to spew into the Gulf of Mexico because of a busted BP drilling well. Today, the Carson City company is gearing up for a surge in business thanks to a machine it develops that could help clean up the Gulf.
CINC, which was founded by actor Kevin Costner and moved to Carson City from Los Angeles in 1995, produces a machine that uses centrifugal force to separate oil from water. President Bret Sheldon said BP plans to buy 32 of the 4,500-pound “V-20” machines to help mitigate the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Each machine costs more than $200,000 and can clean about 4,000 barrels of oil a day.
BP spokesman Bill Salvin confirmed that the company plans to buy 32 of the machines, according to the Associated Press.
“We recognized they had potential and put them through testing, and that testing was done in shallow water and in very deep water and we were very pleased by the results,” Salvin told the AP.
In 2003, Costner sold the company to Sheldon, who had worked as the company’s operations manager. Sheldon said the company moved to Carson City for lower taxes and its vicinity to California.
Meanwhile, Costner has invested more than $20 million into the technology and testified before Congress last week about the machine and its potential use in the Gulf spill.
The machine, which looks like a tube supported by four legs, sucks in contaminated water and spins the liquid until the oil is separated from the water. The machines will be placed on barges and taken to the site of the oil spill where they will begin skimming the contaminated water.
“The idea is to collect the oil before it gets to the shore,” Sheldon said, adding with the help of the machine, “BP will salvage the oil and take it to the refineries and they’ll end up selling it eventually.”
The technology has been used to clean up rivers contaminated with nuclear waste, too.
“The original design for this was used to make plutonium,” Sheldon said. “Now the government is using the same design to clean up plutonium and the waste that was left over from making atomic weapons over the last 50 years.”
Over the next two years, Sheldon said more than 1,000 of these machines could be built bringing in more than $200 million in business.
“We’re a 20 to 40 person sized shop right now, potentially that would be 500 to 1,000 employees,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon said CINC supplies Ocean Therapy Solutions, which is based in Metairie, La., with the centrifuges that will be used in the Gulf.
“What they do is integrate them with the filters and pumps that they need to deploy them out in the Gulf,” Sheldon said. “We build the centrifuges here.”
And as a result of the oil spill and boost in national attention, Sheldon said other companies have expressed interest in buying his company’s product.
“The idea here is beyond the Gulf spill,” he said. “The technology is out there in case there is a spill … they can clean it up instead of waiting for 30 or 60 days … and prevent the spill from reaching shore.”