Toyoda | Revolutionizing Oil Disaster Response

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Revolutionizing Oil Disaster Response

Apr 27, 2020

Dr. Arden Warner of Natural Science, LLC, a seasoned physicist, and innovator, was determined to develop a better approach to oil spill recovery. He theorized that adding magnetic particles to the spill would form a bond between the oil and the particles, allowing the oil to be manipulated magnetically and captured more easily than current methods. This would introduce a new paradigm in oil spill technology – “Electromagnetic Remediation Technology”. For this to work, Natural Science (NS) needed an electromagnetic boom (e-boom) thus introducing the new concept and application. That’s where Accelerated Machine Design & Engineering (AMD&E) comes in with Toyoda machines. The result? A unit approximately eight feet long and 1,500 pounds. It’s a modular system, designed so that it can be expanded to meet the varying needs of disaster response.


Oil spills are unfortunately an unavoidable consequence of pumping, drilling, and shipping the commodity around the globe. The most recent large-scale oil spill, BP Deepwater Horizon in 2010, continues to have detrimental effects on the surrounding ecosystems. Though government regulations and prevention measures have helped reduce the frequency in which these spills occur, the methods that are available for when they do are surprisingly inefficient. 

Booms, the primary response tool, have been used for decades with little to no technological advancement. Booms are essentially floating physical barriers comprised of plastic and material that contain the oil so that it can be skimmed; however, the oil they contain is only on the surface of the water and easily escapes the confines of the barrier, allowing contamination to spread and reach coastlines.

The BP oil spill nearly a decade ago is the largest oil spill in American history. The Gulf of Mexico was flooded with nearly 240 million gallons of oil. Of that, only six million gallons were collected, leaving massive amounts of oil in the depths of the ocean to this day. Following this disaster, Dr. Arden Warner of Natural Science, LLC, a seasoned physicist, and innovator, was determined to develop a better approach to oil spill recovery. He theorized that adding magnetic particles to the spill would form a bond between the oil and the particles, allowing the oil to be manipulated magnetically and captured more easily than current methods. This would introduce a new paradigm in oil spill technology – “Electromagnetic Remediation Technology”.

For this to work, Natural Science (NS) needed an electromagnetic boom (e-boom) thus introducing the new concept and application. That’s where Accelerated Machine Design & Engineering (AMD&E) comes in. NS engaged AMD&E in Rockford, Illinois to build the e-boom prototype based on Warner’s concepts. Accelerated Machine Design & Engineering are established experts at handling every aspect of complex engineering and manufacturing projects from prototype to production. By combining engineering fundamentals with new technologies, AMD&E develops efficient, innovative solutions for industries including energy, aerospace, medical, automotive, and defense. Together, they were more than equipped to change the future of the oil spill response.

Building the Prototype

After about a year of planning and engineering, manufacturing and assembly started. “We ran production around the clock to make the different pieces for the prototype,” said Mark Tingley, President of AMD&E. AMD&E relied on two Toyoda CNC machines—the SB316YM Bridge Machining Center and the Stealth 1565 Vertical Machining Center—to get the job done. “These machines speak for themselves—the capacity and reliability are unmatched. Our Toyoda machines gave us the confidence that we could deliver on this project for NS,” Tingley continued. 

The SB316YM is a 3 m x 2.3 m fixed rail bridge machine designed for heavy cutting applications. Featuring heavy-duty roller guides, a hydraulic counterbalance system on the headstock, and a powerful, geared-head spindle—this machine delivers highly precise and accurate cuts without sacrificing speed. It was the perfect fit to address the backlog AMD&E accumulated for large machine components. The right-angle head for five-face machining, rigid tapping, tool changer, and part probe was the perfect match for the prototype’s complex parts, such as the electromagnetic coils and coil housings.

For parts that required higher SFM, spindle speeds, tool rigidity, fast tool changes, and part probing, the Stealth 1565 VMC was the go-to. The Stealth is a 65 in. x 26 in.high-speed VMC features four Y-axis box guideways, a Meehanite cast iron base, and powerful drive motors on the X, Y, and Z axes. It’s efficient and accurate—a necessity to ensure the prototype would function as anticipated.

The result? A unit approximately eight feet long and 1,500 pounds. It’s a modular system, designed so that it can be expanded to meet the varying needs of disaster response.

Putting Tech to the Test

After years of planning, it was finally time to put the build to the test. AMD&E and NS visited the Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility is known as Ohmsett (Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank) to deploy the module. Ohmsett is the only facility of its kind for full-scale oil spill response equipment testing in which variables such as waves and temperature can be controlled. An oil spill was simulated in the 2.6 million gallons of saltwater and the electromagnetic boom went to work. 

The boom design uses electromagnetic coils to guide the magnetized oil to a location to be collected, separated, and then reused. The oil was guided to a ramp with a magnetized conveyor belt and transferred into a collection tank. Ten minutes later, the glossy, iridescent sheen of the oil in the tank had disappeared. Tests showed that the collection tank only contained 2.7% water, compared to the standard 20%, greatly reducing the costs of cleanup and water treatment. The Natural Science design not only worked—it far outperformed other technologies on the market—and did so with an environmentally safe method using natural materials. With this process, nothing goes to waste. You can still use the oil, reuse the naturally-occurring magnetic particles, and return the water to its original source virtually unharmed.

Outlook

“No matter how disastrous things look, there are solutions. And those solutions can be simple.” —Dr. Arden Warner

As long as we continue to consume petroleum products at the current rate, oil spills will be an inevitable part of our future. Our response, however, is fully in our control. Because companies like Natural Science, LLC, Accelerated Machine Design & Engineering, and Toyoda are committed to clean energy and a sustainable future, we have the technologies necessary to navigate the challenges that lie ahead.

About

Natural Science, LLC is a team of scientists and engineers working to solve environmental problems with solutions that are both safe and efficient. By applying science and innovation, Natural Science, LLC develops technologies and techniques that address critical environmental problems. Naturalscienceusa.com

Accelerated Machine Design & Engineering handles every aspect of complex engineering and manufacturing projects from concept to prototype and prototype to production. By combining engineering fundamentals and new technologies, they create efficient, innovative, and cost-effective solutions for industries including energy, aerospace, medical, automotive, and defense.

AMD&E’s cross-disciplinary approach allows them to solve problems on time and on budget with solutions such as turnkey engineering and analysis, design and build, test and verification, contract manufacturing and project management, and consulting. Accelerated Machine Design & Engineering is located in Rockford, IL. Accmach.com

For over 70 years, Toyoda has been one of the world’s leaders in machine tool manufacturing. From roots in grinding machine technology to the advanced capabilities of an ever-increasing product lineup, Toyoda has provided international markets with quality tools that perform. Toyoda.com

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