Affinity-Based Hydrocyclone Filter for Oil-Water Separation and Oil Spill Cleanup

EPA Grant Number: R835183
Title: Affinity-Based Hydrocyclone Filter for Oil-Water Separation and Oil Spill Cleanup
Investigators: Tarabara, Volodymyr , Bénard, André , Bruening, Merlin
Institution: Michigan State University , Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge
Current Institution: Michigan State University
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: May 16, 2012 through March 31, 2015 (Extended to March 31, 2016)
Project Amount: $500,000
RFA: Environmental Impact and Mitigation of Oil Spills (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems


This research aims to combine oleophilic and hydrophilic membranes with rotating, hydrocyclonic flow to create a technology that rapidly separates oil-water mixtures, such as those from oil spills, into dewatered and deoiled streams. The hypothesis of the work is that the rotational flow will force oil droplets toward the central oleophilic membrane to reduce fouling of the outer hydrophilic membrane and enhance the purity of both the oil whickered by the central oleophilic membrane and the water exiting the outer membrane. The work will include development of superoleophilic membranes to continuously whicker oil, creation of hydrophilic, regenerable coatings to mitigate fouling, predictive and diagnostic modeling of hydrocyclone flow for performance optimization, and design of pilot scale devices.


A series of meetings with Louisiana and Michigan residents affected by recent oil spills (BP’s Gulf of Mexico spill and Enbridge’s Kalamazoo River spill) will engage and connect these communities. Presentations will demonstrate this research, which is devoted to rapid oil-spill response as well as potential reclamation of water used by the oil industry. The outreach will demonstrate that communities have a stake in research projects aimed at addressing the significant human health and environmental risks posed by oil spills.

Expected Results:

The combination of hydrocyclonic separation and affinity-based selectivity of membranes should yield a water stream that meets standards for discharge into the environment and an oil stream sufficiently dewatered for energy use. This technology can reduce the risk of delays in treating large and small oil spills, and reassure communities that there will be a deployable technology that enables a rapid response to contamination of water with oil.p>

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 43 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

water pollution, cleanup, separations, energy recovery,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • 2014
  • Final Report