News | May 16, 2018

Navy inventions address marine oil spills

TechLink can help businesses access dozens of technologies that could help protect the environment

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Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Boston Pollution Prevention Team oversee the deployment of a boom around oil transfer equipment during a drill evaluation known as a Government Initiated Unannounced Exercises (GIUE) at a privately-owned, local fuel storage facility, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Lara Davis/Coast Guard)

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Pollution Prevention Team in Boston conducted a surprise emergency drill at a privately-owned fuel storage facility on Wednesday.

Marine safety technicians used their equipment to deploy a floating boom around oil transfer equipment during the Government Initiated Unannounced Exercise in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Recent major oil spills like the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill have required massive interagency responses, including the deployment of U.S. Navy assets.

To improve response and protect sensitive and economically important marine environments, the Department of Defense’s research community has developed more efficient cleanup materials and processes.

Scientists at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division, have invented a low-cost system to deploy and collect a paper-like nanowire material that can soak up spilled oil like a paper towel. The oil can be removed once the material is collected by a shipboard system and the material regenerated after an ultrasonic washing.

A team at the Naval Research Laboratory invented a bio-optical forecasting system named BioCast. The software system makes accurate short-term predictions on the location and depth of various materials in the ocean, including oil. This is critical information when organizing a comprehensive response and environmental assessment.

The technologies are examples of research and development taking place inside defense laboratories that benefit the environment. And both are available to businesses for creating new products and services.

TechLink, the Department of Defense’s only national partnership intermediary, helps businesses across the U.S. license DoD inventions.

“People often forget how seriously the Navy takes environmental stewardship,” said Brian Metzger, senior technology manager at TechLink. “And that its research can lead to lucrative opportunities for businesses who want to help.”

Headshot Image of Brian Metzger, PhD, CLP

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