Arkansas Firm Sending Engineers to Gulf Oil Spill for Technology Test

July 21, 2010

Engineers with a Fayetteville, Ark., company will go to the Gulf Coast in September to test technology intended to improve oxygen in the oil-contaminated waters.

BlueInGreen LLC has received a $174,979 grant from the National Science Foundation to adapt one of its water quality technologies for use in salt water. The company’s technology is currently designed to treat fresh water, wastewater and various environmental projects.

Scott Osborn, BlueInGreen co-founder, said the grant allows company scientists to develop and implement the technology for salt water.

“There’s a little bit of design that needs to be done to adapt this technology for seawater, because seawater is a little more corrosive,” he said.

The company will focus on oyster beds on the Louisiana coast because of their economic and cultural value to Louisiana, Osborn said, and the fact that they require high concentrations of oxygen.

An April 20 explosion on the leased oil rig Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers and unleashed the oil spill 5,000 feet below the sea. A has cap stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf for the first time since the explosion.

The spill has killed aquatic life, and in some cases left schools of fish and other water creatures competing to find shrinking pockets of oxygen.

Oil dispersants being applied to break up the spill leave tiny oil particles to be consumed by bacteria, but as the bacteria eat the particles, they consume oxygen in the ocean, taking it away from sea life, Osborn said.

Deprived of oxygen, the aquatic creatures that die attract even more bacteria, which continue the cycle of eating and reproducing.

“Our system provides the oxygen to let the ecosystem clean itself, if you will,” Osborn said.

Osborn, Marty Matlock and Calvin Goforth started BlueInGreen in 2004 in the University of Arkansas’ Genesis Technology Incubator. It is the first company affiliated with the university to become involved with the Gulf cleanup, said UA spokesman Steve Voorhies.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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