BP Oil Leak: Ready, Set...Brainstorm!

Are you tired of watching the BP Oil Spill continue to flow unabated, and all anyone seems to be talking about is who is going to pay for the damage that is ongoing with no end in sight?

The relief wells that BP has finally begun drilling to shut off the leak will not be ready until the end of the summer, while the BP Oil leak is producing an Exxon Valdez sized spill every eight days. That’s about 12 more Valdez’s on the way at least!

Where has all of the ingenuity gone? Can industrial Design save the day? Ready, Set…Brainstorm!..

I think that second idea made a lot of sense!

Yes it does… but: water pressure at 5000 feet below sea level - Wolfram|Alpha

2234 psi is incredibly strong.

Nuke the site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.

I would post what I helped work on, but uh, I think it’s pseudo-proprietory.

the water would be inside the tube too though… ? Pressure should be equal and not crush the tube I think.

I read some informed speculation today that the well pipe is actually cracked and/or eroding and on the verge of collapsing- this is below the level of the sea floor where it would be completely inaccessible. This goes some way to explaining why the previous junk shot and top kill attempts didn’t work and have been completely abandoned. All these procedures increase the internal pressure, increasing the risk of catastrophic failure.

If the well pipe fails down near the bottom, we are pretty much fcuked until the oil field drains itself. The resulting spill would make this current situation look like a pool party, and oil would end up all around the globe. If all this is correct, the only hope is that the relief well hits its mark before the pipe goes. I think it’s fairly clear that there is more going on than what we’re being told. This might also explain why they were so keen to get the money from BP up front in escrow. The current scale of this, even if it goes on for another couple months, is nowhere near big enough to threaten the viability of BP as a going concern. If the well collapses though…

That’s terrifying.

I was thinking the same thing about some sort of long straw to simply pipe the oil up and out of the water. I have to believe that there is some solid reason why this wouldn’t work, and not that it just hasn’t been thought of. It seems so obvious. Or, could the focus be so much on “plugging” the problem and putting it back the way it was, that an outsiders solution like this just doesn’t come up.
I don’t think the pressure would be the issue, because as someone said its not an empty tube so it’s supported from the inside. I mean there’s jellyfish that live down there and they’re not being crushed by the pressure. Who do we call about this?

That’s actually what they’re doing right now. However, lightning struck the boat and started a huge fire… no more pumping.

Nicely done, sir. Nicely done.

There’s a website to submit ideas. You’ll get a quick response


It is one thing to make some design sketches with good old Tucker during the IDSA conference effected by the 2003 blackout in NY, but for my taste this oil spill is a little too sad and way over our heads to turn it into a sketching game.

Besides, I am sure that Kevin Costner and Sean Penn are on their way already.

Maybe the problem with the current ideas (or at least the ones I’ve seen) is how to fix the pipe so we can continue piping the oil out safely. How about just sealing it permanently, probably an easier solution. If Dubai can build islands, I’m sure there’s a similar solution right there??

The problem isn’t a lack of ideas, the problem is that some things just can’t be fixed easily or quickly. There are lots of conceivable ways of blocking off the top of the well pipe, but if the well pipe is not sound upstream of that point, then none of those flow stopping approaches are viable. They will all exacerbate a much worse problem. It’s like plugging up a garden hose that has pinhole leaks all along its length. You just moved the problem somewhere where it’s impossible to manage. We haven’t been told that, but the fact that they have completely given up on any top kill flow stopping approach is telling.

The only real solution then is to block off the flow lower down in the pipe, which is what the relief well is going to do. In the meantime, the only thing to do is try to capture as much of the oil as possible as it comes out, which they are doing a reasonable job of.

I think they should also probably knock it off with the dispersants. It seems a lot easier to collect or burn surface oil than plumes of oil heading off to points unknown. But I’m not an expert, and there are probably factors involved I know nothing about.

Just read a report that the oil mixture is up to 40% methane, a usual oil well is no more than 5%. This adds some complexity to the situation, and also has the capability of creating oxygen depleted dead zones in the water. All that sea life and eco-system will be affected by this.

The Dubai islands are really peninsulas in shallow water made from dredged up silt. A matter of moving earth from one spot to another relatively close by. We’ve been doing stuff like this for years. Here in Chicago, most of the land east of Michigan Ave was swamp until they filled it all in, and that was over 100 years ago. The blown well is a bit more complicated a mile under water and 50 miles from shore.

I just read this thing that Scott Bennett was referring to. If the worst case comes to fruition, 8 mil barrels per day & the 2.5 bil barrel well means thing goes on for 10 more months. It’s hard to believe our leaders will sit around that long watching the apocalypse unfold. You would think we would see some drastic action.

seems to me that they are doing the relief wells, which will intersect the broken pipe lower down, but that will take a few months, so the design challenge is to stop the flow or conatin the flow considering that the pipe is broken. Like the giant tube in sketch 2… if the spill cound be managed in a mile wide circle instead of letting it drift all over, that would be a big help while we wait for the end of August when the relief wells are done…

There is too much pressure to make a seal to secure the oil methane water mixture.

I assume the above comment applies to the wedge/cap/ seal technique from the first sketch.
I don’t think I’ve heard why the second idea wouldn’t work yet. why not?