A Gainesville company is one step closer to tackling the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but it isn’t there quite yet.
Gainesville’s MyCelx Technologies begins a series of demonstrations in the Gulf today, showing its product, large mats featuring a special polymer that can absorb oil, to government officials and BP executives. The demonstrations continue this week in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
In total, five or six demonstrations are planned, said Andy Narayanan, engineering and operations manager for MyCelx. Today’s presentation is in Mobile, Ala.
“Everybody has questions about how to use (the product), how much (oil) is going to be consumed, so we are going to show them in person, directly, what we are trying to do,” Narayanan said.
And they’re ready to pounce when they get approval.
“If anybody is doubting whether a small company can gear up to produce this much, we definitely have all the plans put in place,” he said. “In a very, very short time we will be able to make and deliver this product to be utilized.”
But they’re still waiting for the green light — a process that’s taken longer than the company would like.
He said the product’s newness and the other spill response contractors engaged in the job have been roadblocks to approval.
If the company gets the go-ahead, their approach would be twofold, using both mats and a vacuum system.
The large mats featuring the company’s polymer, invented by MyCelx President Haluk Alper, would remove oil from the surface of the water and could even be used on beaches.
The mats can cover a large surface area and are environmentally friendly, Narayanan said.
The company also would like to use a vacuum recovery unit to help in the marshes affected by the spill.
The vacuum pump-and-treat system would separate oil from water and pump the recovered water directly back to the marine environment.
“This eliminates hauling off this water into the barges, back into the shore, into the truck and then sending it off somewhere to dispose of, which is very, very expensive,” Narayanan said.
He said the cost of the product is “very comparable” to other spill response technologies on the market.
And he’s hopeful this week’s demonstrations will put the company in a position to get rolling in the Gulf.
“We are hoping it’s going to be sooner than later,” Narayanan said. “We are very, very optimistic that we are going to get it because we have a product that is very, very good, better than most of the products in the industry.”