Raegan Reeves, a 23-year-old Lumberton High School graduate, is up for changing the way the world sees oil cleanup with her startup Crude Spill Cleaning Co.

Living in Lumberton with grandparents George and Phyllis Allen, and Tonya Green, her mother, she is currently studying chemical engineering at NC State University and recently launched her company after the research project she was working on gave amazing results after a series of experimental trials.

The startup works with a mission of researching and developing new, innovative methods of cleanup for our environment, and lessening man-made disasters such as oil spills.

The primary focus of Crude Spill Cleaning is on the development of a more efficient way of pulling out crude oil and petroleum from wildlife, especially birds that frequent water, and get affected during oil spills.

That was the idea behind it when Reeves and her mentor Robert Troxler introduced their research in July 2020 at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at N.C. State.

“We just thought it was interesting that there was no innovation in this area. We had been using Dawn dish detergent, something made for dishes, all of this time and so we thought, Is there a better way to go by this?” said Reeves.

Reeves was one of those people who was always interested in the concept of sustainability and her education at N.C. State University gave her a clear picture of the problems the world and our environment are facing right now.

“At the very beginning of our engineering classes they teach us about the big problems of the world and how we go about them, they teach us water scarcity is going to be an issue, developing medicine is going to be an issue, green energy is going to be an issue.”, she said, while talking about her education.

It didn’t take her long to recognise the lack of a chemical that should be in high demand. “There is no research really done for a chemical specifically made to clean oil off animals,” Reeves told.

Her startup, Crude Spill Cleaning Co., is currently headquartered in Research Triangle Park and Reeves serves as the chief technical officer and the president of the company. The research part of this whole thing is carried out at Troxler Electronic Labs, where her mentor Robert supervises and serves as the director of Advanced Technologies.

According to Reeves, “The company already has developed two different chemical solvents to clean oil from feathers in a way that is much faster, more efficient, and easier on the wildlife. Both solvents significantly outperformed Dawn in all experimental trials. The final averaged percentages resulted in Solvent 1 and 2 removing 85-90% of oil from feathers, while the detergent solution removed only 35% of oil from feathers. They are both gentle on skin and eyes, and have extremely high flashpoints,” she added.

The company’s current focus is the refinement of these solvents and the development of new and more innovative cleaning methods for further advancement in the oil spill response.

Tazeen Ansari

A writer, an art enthusiast, and someone who can articulate her thoughts better while writing than speaking, is pretty much enough to describe Tazeen as a person.