Events & Media

More Accolades for Oil Recovery Technology Developed at the Bren School

A drum skimmer initially developed in Arturo Keller's lab and used to recover oil spilled in marine environments has received a 2012 Breakthrough Award from POPULAR MECHANICS magazine. Keller and alumna Victoria Broje, now an oil-spill response expert for Shell Oil, collaborating on the skimmer project, which served as Broje's doctoral dissertation.

Popular Mechanics, Nov. 2012

Through the efforts of the UCSB Office of Technology & Industry Alliance, licensing rights to the technology were purchased by Illinois-based Elastec/American Marine, the nation's largest maker of oil-spill recovery technology. Elastec has continued to refine the technology since then, taking home a $1 million first prize in an X Challenge held in 2011.

The POPULAR MECHANICS Breakthrough Awards, now in their eighth year, recognize the innovators and products that have dramatically advanced the fields of technology, medicine, space exploration, automotive design, environmental engineering and more. Elastec/American Marine and other winners were honored at a ceremony in New York City on October 4 and are showcased in the November issue of POPULAR MECHANICS which hit newsstands October 16.  

Elastec/American Marine manufactures pollution control equipment to clean up the world’s environmental accidents and disasters. Its fire boom systems successfully corralled and burned the highest volume of oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010, preventing masses of crude from coming ashore. In 2011 the company won the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE for its innovative mechanical Grooved Disc oil skimmer, the same technology winning the POPULAR MECHANICS Breakthrough Award.

The grooved skimmer in action

“We are once again excited to recognize this year’s list of incredible honorees for their role in shaping the future,” says James B. Meigs, editor-in-chief of POPULAR MECHANICS. “From a featherweight metal to the world’s fastest and most electrically efficient supercomputer, this year’s winners embody the creative spirit that the Breakthrough Awards were founded upon.”

A full list of winners can be found here:

POPULAR MECHANICS’ Breakthrough Awards are given in two categories: innovators, whose inventions will make the world smarter, safer and more efficient in the years to come, and products, which are setting benchmarks in design and engineering today.

Past recipients of the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards include film director James Cameron, genomics pioneer J. Craig Venter, efficiency expert Amory Lovins, inventor and FIRST Robotics founder Dean Kamen, and humanitarian engineer Amy Smith.