MEIKRANTZ, David, et al.
Kevin Costner --Actor, Musician and Ocean Therapist
The River Wanders
When Kevin Costner isnít busy making movies or fronting his band
Modern West, heís spending $26 million of his own money developing
technology designed to save the ocean from oil pollution. No joke.
This isnít a venture he started last month; Costner has been
working on a way to clean up oil spills for over 15 years.
Appalled by the Exxon Valdez disaster, he and his brother Dan
invested in a company Ė Ocean Therapy Solutions Ė which has
created a patented technology to clean up oil slicks. Costner
brought a small prototype of the machine to Louisiana and
showcased its ability to vacuum and separate crude-laden water
into essentially 97-99% clean water in one tank, oil in another.
Barges can deploy 31 of the full-sized centrifuges into the Gulf
of Mexico to begin removing British Petroleumís oil from the water
before it hits delicate shorelines. Theoretically, that
is. Inventor Wayne Bennett is waiting for BP approval but as
of Friday, no one from BP had returned Bennettís numerous phone
calls. Local officials are eager to test Costnerís
technology as oil from the uncapped Deepwater Horizon well drifts
closer every day.
What could possibly be so important that BP officials donít have
time to return phone calls about remediation technology thatís
obviously worth consideration? Managing the flow of information
and public relations, perhaps. BP should be containing the
unchecked flow of oil before it works on its corporate image.
May 14, 2010
Actor Kevin Costner Helps Fight Oil Spill
Costner In New Orleans To
Promote Oil-Extracting Machine
NEW ORLEANS -- Actor Kevin Costner was in New Orleans on Thursday
with a machine that extracts oil from water.
He said he's ready to go to work to help clean up the spill.
The world-famous actor and environmental activist said he's not
here to talk the talk. He's here to walk the walk.
"We moved this through a technology that we know works, and it's
prepared to go out and solve problems, not talk about them,"
At a demonstration surrounded by local parish leaders, Costner and
his business partners displayed their oil extractor device for the
local news media.
The machine works on the principle of centrifugal force. In this
case, diesel fuel and water enter the machine together and are
jettisoned separately, with water on one side and diesel on the
other. The machine will clean the water up to 97 percent, said
officials with Ocean Therapy Solutions.
"We're working on the technology now that will get us the other 3
percent so that you can actually drink out of the machine," said
OTS official John Houghtaling II.
"I just am really happy that this has come to the light of day,"
Costner said. "I'm very sad about why it is, but this is why it
was developed, and like anything that we all face as a group, we
face it together."
Local parish leaders are excited.
"We will be pushing for this to at least get a demonstration out
in the open water to put this to a test," said St. Bernard Parish
President Craig Taffaro. "If it shows what it shows here on land,
then we may have found ourselves another tool for the tool box."
"With these odds and percentages, it only makes sense," said
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nunguesser. "Let's give it a
There are five different machines that work from 5 gallons a
minute to 200 gallons a minute.
Fifteen years ago, Costner funded a group of scientists headed by
his brother to develop such a device. Local partners have been
organized to deploy the machine for BP.
Inventor(s): MEIKRANTZ DAVID H [US]; MACALUSO
LAWRENCE L [US]; SAMS III H WILLIAM [US]; SCHARDIN JR CHARLES H
[US]; FEDERICI ALFRED G [US] + (MEIKRANTZ, DAVID H, ; MACALUSO,
LAWRENCE L, ; SAMS, III, H. WILLIAM, ; SCHARDIN, JR., CHARLES H, ;
FEDERICI, ALFRED G)
Classification: - international: B01D17/02; B04B1/00; B04B1/02;
B04B11/06; B01D17/02; B04B1/00; B04B11/00; (IPC1-7): B01D21/26;
B04B1/00 ;- European: B01D17/02H; B04B1/02;
Also published as: US5591340 // EP0850099 // EP0850099 //AU6906596
-- A centrifugal
separator has a housing with a generally cylindrical inner surface
defining an inner chamber. A hollow rotor is disposed within the
chamber for rotation therein. At least one inlet is provided for
introducing a liquid mixture into the annular volume between the
rotor and the housing, where it is then directed into the rotor.
An upper rotor assembly separates the liquid mixture by phase
densities with the disparate components directed to respective
outlets. In one embodiment of the invention, the upper rotor
assembly includes an easily removable weir ring to facilitate
"tuning" of the separation process. The rotor of the separator is
mounted on a unitary rotor shaft that extends axially through the
separation chamber to upper and lower bearing assemblies in the
separator housing. The bottom surface of the housing, where the
liquid mixture is directed from the annular mixing volume into the
rotor, preferably includes a plurality of radial vanes that are
curved in the direction of rotation of the rotor to assist in
directing the liquid mixture with minimal turbulence. Collector
rings for the separated components provided from the upper rotor
assembly are preferably formed integrally in the wall of the
housing with a smoothly contoured peripheral surface to reduce
turbulence of the output streams.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to centrifugal separators for
separating mixed liquids of different densities, and more
particularly to an improved separator assembly for achieving
higher separation efficiencies with a variety of process liquids.
2. Prior Art
Centrifugal devices are widely used for separating materials of
different densities. Such devices have been found to provide a
highly satisfactory method of separating liquids from one another
based on different weight phases.
Separators, also referred to as extractors, can separate the
individual components of a mixed component input stream, provided
that the components remain in separate phases. In many instances,
extraction may be facilitated with the use of a solvent that is
injected into the device as a second input stream. In this case,
the device is often referred to as a "contactor" since it brings
the waste stream and the solvent stream into intimate contact. The
solvent phase, together with the soluble specie(s), is then
separated from the carrier phase by differentiation of the phase
densities. Typically, the process liquids comprise a lighter (less
dense) solvent or organic phase and a heavier aqueous phase, which
are introduced into the centrifugal contactor through separate
inlets that communicate with a mixing zone. The resulting liquid
mixture then enters the rotor of the contactor where centrifugal
force separates the heavier phase from the lighter phase by
forcing the heavier phase to flow outwardly away from the
rotational axis of the rotor and thereby displace the lighter
phase closer to the rotational axis of the rotor. The two phases
are then individually collected at the upper end of the rotor with
the heavier phase exiting at a location adjacent to the outer
periphery and the lighter phase exiting at a location adjacent to
the rotational axis. Typically, one or both of the exiting phases
is subjected to one or more subsequent stages of extraction such
as by circulation through another contactor.
A method of centrifugally separating the components of a
water-petroleum mixture is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,959,158
issued to the first-named inventor of this application. The method
described therein utilized a centrifugal contactor developed by
the U.S. Department of Energy for the extraction of transuranic
elements from radioactive waste streams at nuclear processing
plants. It was discovered that this device could be advantageously
employ ed for the separation of a water-petroleum mixture. The
relatively small size of the device, however, limited the
practical applications of the method due to the relatively low
throughput. The contactor design did not lend itself to being
scaled up in size due to the design of the rotor, which was
suspended from the rotor shaft into the contactor chamber. Such
design was dictated, in part, by the robotic access to the rotor
required in nuclear waste processing applications. In a larger
size, a contactor of the same design would be inoperable due to
the lack of a lower support for the rotor.
A contactor of a similar design similar to that described above,
also developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, is described in
U.S. Pat. No. 5,024,647. This contactor also employs a suspended
rotor design, which limits its useful size.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a centrifugal separator that
achieves significantly higher separation throughputs and a broader
range of applications than similar devices heretofore known in the
art. The separator of the present invention is readily scaled in
size in accordance with the throughput of process liquids desired.
The separator comprises a housing having a generally cylindrical
inner surface defining an interior chamber. A hollow rotor is
disposed within the chamber for rotation therein, the rotor having
upper and lower openings and a generally cylindrical rotor wall
with an inner and an outer surface. The outer surface of the rotor
wall is spaced apart from the inner surface of the housing and
thereby defines an annular mixing volume. At least one inlet is
provided for introducing a liquid mixture into the annular volume,
which is in communication with the lower opening in the rotor. An
upper rotor assembly separates the liquid mixture by phase
densities with the disparate components directed to respective
outlets. In one embodiment of the invention, the upper rotor
assembly includes an easily removable weir ring to facilitate
"tuning" of the separation process. This allows the separator to
have application to a wide range of fluid densities. The rotor of
the separator is mounted on a unitary rotor shaft that extends
axially through the separation chamber to upper and lower bearing
assemblies in the separator housing. The bottom surface of the
housing, where the liquid mixture is directed from the annular
mixing volume into the rotor, preferably includes a plurality of
radial vanes that are curved in the direction of rotation of the
rotor to assist in directing the liquid mixture with minimal
turbulence. Collector rings for the separated components provided
from the upper rotor assembly are preferably formed integrally in
the wall of the housing with a smoothly contoured peripheral
surface to reduce turbulence of the output streams.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
cross-sectional view of a centrifugal separator constructed in
accordance with the present invention.
illustrates one of
the axial vanes used in the rotor of the separator illustrated in
illustrates a rotor
diverter plate used in the separator illustrated in FIG. 1.
is a plan view of a lighter phase slinger used in
the separator of FIG. 1.
cross-sectional view of the lighter phase slinger taken through
line 5--5 of FIG. 4.
illustrates a weir
plate used in the separator of FIG. 1.
heavier phase slinger used in the separator of FIG. 1.
is a partial
cross-sectional view of a modified rotor assembly.
is a plan view of
the bottom plate of the separator shown in FIG. 1.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
In the following description, for purposes of explanation and not
limitation, specific details are set forth in order to provide a
thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will
be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention
may be practiced in other embodiments that depart from these
specific details. In other instances, detailed descriptions of
well-known methods and devices are omitted so as to not obscure
the description of the present invention with unnecessary detail.
FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a separator 10 constructed in
accordance with the present invention. It will be recognized that
the general arrangement of the components is fairly typical for
centrifugal separators known in the prior art. Therefore, details
of the construction of the separator, apart from the particular
subject matter of the present invention, will not be described
herein at length.
The housing of separator 10 comprises a lower sleeve 12 and an
upper sleeve 14 joined together by screws 16. Separator 10 is
supported by legs 18, which are screwed or otherwise suitably
fastened to upper sleeve 14. In the illustrated embodiment,
separator 10 is supported by four such legs; however, the number
of legs may be three or greater than four, if desired. Legs 18
rest on or are attached to base 20. Bumpers 19 on each of the legs
bear against lower sleeve 12 to dampen precessional movement of
the separator housing.
The design of separator 10 is such that it can be readily scaled
up or down in size depending upon the desired flow rate.
Substantially the same design as illustrated may be utilized for
separators with diameters anywhere from 5 inches to 60 inches or
more. Regardless of the diameter of the rotor, it is preferable to
preserve a height to diameter ratio of approximately 2.4.
Bottom plate 22 is secured to the bottom of lower sleeve 12 with
screws 24. Bottom bearing 26 is held in place by bearing cap 28
which is secured to bottom plate 22 by screws 30. Bearing 26 is
protected from contamination by liquids contained within lower
sleeve 12 by means of oil seal 32.
Upper bearing housing 34 is secured ;o the top of upper sleeve 14
by screws 36. Upper bearing 38 is retained within housing 34 by
means of bearing retainer plate 40. This is secured to bearing
housing 34 by screws 42.
Rotor 44 is carried on shaft 46 within the separation chamber
defined by lower sleeve 12 and upper sleeve 14. The bottom end 48
of shaft 46 is supported both axially and radially by bottom
bearing 26. Shaft 44 extends through the entire separation chamber
and is supported at its upper end 50 by upper bearing 38. The
inner race of upper bearing 38 is retained on shaft 46 by locknut
Rotor 44 is turned about the axis of shaft 46 by means of motor
54, which is mounted to upper bearing housing 34 by means of motor
mount 56. Motor shaft 58 is coupled to the upper end 50 of shaft
46 by means of compliant coupling 60, which is keyed both to rotor
shaft 46 and to motor shaft 58.
A toothed wheel 170 is coupled to the upper end 50 of rotor shaft
46. A proximity sensor 172 is installed in motor mount 56 for
sensing rotation of toothed wheel 170. The output of proximity
sensor 172 is coupled to control electronics (not shown) for
regulating the speed of motor 54. Motor speed is selected as a
function of the physical dimensions of separator 10 and the
process liquids involved. In typical applications, such as
separation of petroleum contaminants from water, the rotor speed
is selected to achieve approximately 200-300 g's of centrifugal
force. For a nominal 5 inch diameter separator, a rotor speed of
approximately 1750 rpm is suitable.
As mentioned above, rotor 44 is carried on shaft 46. The outer
sleeve 70 of rotor 44 is supported on shaft 46, in part, by axial
vanes 72, one of which is more clearly shown in FIG. 2. In the
illustrated embodiment of separator 10, there are four such vanes,
although any other suitable number of vanes could be employed.
Rotor bottom 74 is attached to rotor sleeve 70 and has a central
aperture defining an axial opening 76 around shaft 46 through
which a liquid mixture is admitted to the interior of rotor 44.
Diverter plate 78 is mounted on shaft 46 just above rotor bottom
74. A plan view of diverter plate 78 is shown in FIG. 3.
The top assembly of rotor 44, where phase separation occurs,
comprises lighter phase slinger 80, weir plate 82, baffle plate 84
and heavier phase slinger 86. In one embodiment of the invention,
the heavier phase weir 88 is secured to slinger 86 by screws 90.
This allows the weir to be easily changed, a feature that is
particularly useful for "tuning" separator 10 for a particular
separation process. Small variations in the aperture diameter of
weir 88 can have a dramatic effect on the efficiency of the
separation process. Once the appropriate aperture diameter has
been determined, the weir may be permanently secured to slinger
86. Alternatively, the weir may be machined integrally with
slinger 86. In order to provide access to screws 90 and weir 88, a
separate slinger cap 92 is provided. Slinger cap 92 is secured to
slinger 86 by screws 94. Details of slinger 86 are shown in FIG.
7. With weir plate 88 and cap 92 in place, a chamber 110 is
defined which communicates with outlet ports 112. In the case
where the weir is formed integrally with the slinger, a separate
slinger cap is not necessary and the heavier phase slinger may be
constructed substantially like the lighter phase slinger 80.
Details of lighter phase slinger 80 can be better seen in FIGS. 4
and 5. Slinger 80 comprises a hollow chamber 102 that communicates
with outlet ports 104. Liquid is admitted into chamber 102 through
the integral annular weir 106.
Details of weir plate 82 are shown in FIG. 6. This is simply an
annular plate with slots 108 to receive radial baffles 114. Baffle
plate 84 is simply a solid disk somewhat smaller in diameter than
rotor sleeve 70 that fits over shaft 46 and is slotted in the same
manner as weir plate 82 Rio receive radial baffles 114.
Referring now to FIG. 8, the components of rotor 44 are
conveniently assembled with the following described process.
First, organic slinger 80 is positioned on shaft 46 and welded
thereto. To facilitate axial positioning of slinger 80, shaft 46
is preferably machined with a shoulder 116 to receive the slinger.
Next, weir plate 82 is placed over the upper end of the rotor
shaft. Baffle plate 84 is then placed over the rotor shaft and
preferably abuts a second shoulder 118 machined on the shaft.
Radial baffle plates 114 are then inserted into respective slots
in weir plate 82 and baffle plate 84 where they are tack-welded in
place. The axial baffles are aligned with the outlet ports in
lighter phase slinger 80 and baffle plate 84 is then welded in
place on shaft 46. Heavier phase slinger 86', shown here with an
integral weir, is next placed over the shaft and the outlet ports
are aligned with the radial baffles. The slinger is then welded to
shaft 46, thereby completing the upper rotor assembly.
At the lower end of the rotor, diverter plate 78 is placed over
shaft 46 against the shoulder 120. Axial vanes 72 are inserted
into receiving grooves in shaft 46 and over diverter plate 78.
Rotor bottom 74 is then installed against axial vanes 72 and
clamped in place. The axial vanes are then tack-welded to the
diverter plate and to the rotor shaft. The rotor bottom is then
tack-welded to the axial vanes. Next the diverter plate is welded
to the rotor shaft. After checking the alignment of all
components, they are permanently welded in place. The internal
components of rotor 44 are dynamically balanced by selectively
removing material from the bottom surface of rotor bottom 74
adjacent to its outer periphery. Rotor sleeve 70 is then installed
and welded to axial vanes 72. Sleeve 70 is also tack-welded to
aqueous slinger 86 and to rotor bottom 74. After a final alignment
check, rotor sleeve 70 is finish welded to slinger 86 and rotor
Referring again to FIG. 1, two inlet ports 140 and 142 are
provided in lower sleeve 12 for admitting input streams to the
annular mixing volume 144. Inlet ports 140 and 142 are
symmetrically disposed and either one or both may be used for
admitting the liquid mixture to be separated. An auxiliary inlet
port 146 is provided for admitting a solvent in the case of a
solvent-extraction process. Auxiliary inlet port 146 may also be
used for introducing other separation agents, such as a
surfactant, an emulsion breaker, etc. The rotation of rotor 44
ensures thorough mixing of the process liquids in annular mixing
volume 144. An inspection window 160 is provided in the wall of
lower sleeve 12 for visually examining the liquid mixture within
annular mixing volume 144. The mixed components are guided by
vanes 148 on bottom plate 22 into the interior of rotor 44 of
axial opening 76. The liquid mixture is centrifugally separated
according to phase density by the rotation of rotor 44. The
heavier phase in the liquid mixture, typically an aqueous phase,
is forced by centrifugal action against the wall of sleeve 70.
This displaces the lighter phase, typically an organic phase,
radially inwardly toward shaft 46. The lighter phase is admitted
into chamber 102 of slinger 80 through weir 106. The lighter phase
exits through outlet ports 104 into collector ring 150. The
heavier phase continues upwardly past slinger 80 and is routed
into slinger 863 where it is expelled through outlet ports 112
into collection ring 152. Collection rings 150 and 152 are formed
as integral channels in upper sleeve 14 with smoothly curving
peripheral walls. This construction contributes to lower
turbulence of the output streams and facilitates a higher flow
rate through the separator. Collector rings 150 and 152
communicate with respective outlet ports 154 and 156.
FIG. 9 is a plan view of bottom plate 22 showing the preferred
configuration of vanes 148. The vanes are curved in the direction
of rotation of rotor 44. Curving the vanes in this fashion has the
effect of directing the liquid mixture towards axial opening 76
with significantly less turbulence than typically occurs with the
straight radial vanes of prior art separators. Vanes 148 are
preferably formed integrally with bottom plate 22 by casting or
machining. However, vanes 148 may also be formed separately and
subsequently attached to bottom plate 22 by welding or other
It will be recognized that the above described invention may be
embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit
or essential characteristics of the disclosure. Thus, it is
understood that the invention is not to be limited by the
foregoing illustrative details, but rather is to be defined by the