Eric M.V. Hoek
Involvement with BPS and WestPac Resources
In the fall of 2009, Prof. Hoek initiated a research project at UCLA to evaluate the centrifugal separator technology employed by Blue Planet Solutions for its applicability in treating “oil–contaminated waters” such as those oily and brackish waters produced during oil & gas production. This project was progressing well, but with a slow and methodical approach. As part of this research, Prof. Hoek and his technical team at UCLA developed optimization strategies and computer models to enhance the performance of models V02 through V20 – enabling oil removals to reach 99.99% for various oil–in–water emulsions. In addition, the UCLA team has developed oil–tolerant membranes that can filter the product water from the centrifugal separators and reduce the oil concentration in the water to non–detectable levels, while maintaining revolutionary water productivity, operational stability, and energy efficiency. While the UCLA membrane technology is not ready for immediate deployment, Blue Planet Solutions expects the ongoing research and development efforts at UCLA will produce commercial viable filtration systems soon.
In late April of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which is now considered the largest in U.S. history and an environmental disaster, gave forth to a real, immediate need for rapid oil–water separation technology that up to this point in time did not exist. Since the beginning of May Prof. Hoek and his research staff have been conducting research in his UCLA laboratories to evaluate the centrifugal separator technology employed by Blue Planet Solutions for its potential use as a first response technology to assist in the Gulf oil spill containment and cleanup efforts. In addition, Prof. Hoek has made several trips to the Gulf region and has been working as a consultant to BPS to help their technical staff and teaming partners rapidly develop barge–mounted prototype systems for immediate deployment in response to the recent Gulf oil spill. In June, successful tests of prototype systems were performed in collaboration with D&L Salvage, CCS Midstream Services, and British Petroleum. Several barge-mounted systems are currently deployed in the Gulf as part of the overall oil cleanup efforts by BP and the US Coast Guard with new and improved systems coming online daily.
Dr. Eric M.V. Hoek is an Associate Professor in the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering & Applied Science and Director of the Nanomaterials and Membrane Technology Research (NanoMeTeR) Laboratory in the UCLA Department Civil & Environmental Engineering. Hoek’s research program at UCLA explores the union of nanomaterials and membrane technologies for more efficient production of clean water and energy and for more effective protection of human health and the environment – all keys to a more sustainable future. For example, Hoek’s recent innovation of nanocomposite reverse osmosis membranes is considered among the “ten most important new technologies, which could change the way the world of water works,” and is now being developed commercially by NanoH2O Inc. In 2009, Hoek became co–editor of Desalination, the international journal on the science and technology of desalting and water purification, and he has more than 40 peer–reviewed publications in journals such as Nature Materials, Environmental Science & Technology, and Journal of Membrane Science. In addition, Hoek has contributed over 200 invited, keynote, oral and poster presentations at international meetings, universities, and private companies around the world.