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

It’s not fundamentally different than what they’ve done already with the containment cap, which is just a pipe running down to the top of the well.

As to why the vinyl tube concept specifically wouldn’t work- think ocean currents. It would get blown away immediately. There would also likely be problems with hydrates forming and turning the whole tube into a big buoyant, slushy mess, which is what foiled their first containment effort. You can’t let the oil and methane mix with seawater down there if you want to get it out.

Sorry to get all engineery on you. I think there’s this expectation that we should just be trying a bunch of stuff until we find something that works. But if you were in charge, would you really propose removing the fairly effective containment cap that’s currently in place in order to try some alternative untested containment idea? I wouldn’t.

Personally i think what they are doing is pretty good, of course a natural disaster of this scale is never good! The fact is what they are doing at these depths is an engineering feat in its own, as mentioned before the pressures involved are crazy with only artificial lights and ROV’s to do the work, and not to forget the force at which the oil is escaping from the well.

semantics of course, but a “natural disaster” is an earthquake, or a hurricane, this is a man-made catastrophe.

My solution? Forget Kevin Costner, we need Michael J Fox.

There is one Brit on this earth with the sucking power to clean up this BP mess.

James Dyson.

Actually, there were about 12 Brits today that had the sucking power to clean up the BP mess:

If there’s that much methane, can’t they somehow light an underwater fire (like with those underwater welding torches) and just burn the stuff at the source of the leak as it comes out continuously until the well is dry? Not ideal, but better than contaminating the entire ocean…

OR, what about sending down some sort of un-inflated giant balloon. Position it over the pipe, seal it around it, and let it fill up with oil. When it gets full enough to reach the surface, pop a hole in it that is connected to tankers and have it continuously pump out to waiting tankers? Sorta like the giant tube, but without having to worry about getting it down there and the pressure issue. As the oil fills it will be equalized in pressure with the surrounding water (no air inside) so less issues of pressure differential.


Suck it up. Scott can do it.

i like the underwater flame idea and giant bubble idea… they are both striving to be out of the box. They are both moving past “capping the well”. Keep going

If I can weigh in on this for a moment, and redirect the discussion back to the original topic…

I think Scott Henderson’s Collapsing Tube Containment might well work.

Think under-water “eductor”, or air-lift, that we’ve all seen on many exploration/archeology television programs …a tube, held by a scuba diver sucks up debris, and gold doubloons, by virtue of compressed air injected at the open end … and with thanks to Mr. Bernoulli, the air expands causing a suction which lifts the material to the surface. It will even work with pumped sea water, instead of air.

In this case, the oil is already lighter than the sea water so it is trying to “surface” on it’s own. And since it is hot, it is expanding as it rises; +1. The pressure of the surrounding sea water, at any depth, is countered by the sea water/oil emulsion and prevents the “tube” from collapsing. And we inject a bit of compressed air at the bottom to help things along (the lift tube doesn’t even need to be sealed at the bottom).

Another very REAL problem is … who, and how, does one contact the “proper” authority to implement any idea?

BP officials? The Obama administration? American oil companies? Jon Stewart…

Considering the scale of this nightmare, it may have created a new “industry” that will have plenty of work for decades to come.

The problem with the hydrates still remains. It will cause the tube to have too much buoyancy. We need a paradigm shift or a leap in technology, like Yo suggests. Transparent aluminum, or an aquatic wormhole. It’s time to put all those extreme engineering shows to practical use.

…if you can come up with a way to keep a mile long flexible tube from moving around or being torn apart in strong ocean currents. Same goes for the balloon.

The underwater burning idea is missing one key ingredient- oxygen. You’re not burning anything until you can figure out a way to move a comparable volume of oxygen, at a similar flow rate, to the source of the leak.

Why can’t oil recovery methods be mid-depth?

Most of the issues with dealing with capping the well seem to come from the sheer depth and pressure. Could containment devices work in depths that are man-able, before the plume concentration becomes too dispersed?

No more ROVs, no more Hydrates…currents would be of concern though.

There are huge fish processing vessels that can drag massive nets at good depth, could that type of process work with huge oil bladders drug at depth?

They have bladders capable of holding crude.
50k gallons is the largest size I’ve seen just doing a quick online search. I know on the other professional blogs, some bladder guys have been complaining about offering help and no one getting back to them.

That’s completely infuriating! :imp:

This is exactly where the US fails. Politics in action at its finest.
“NO, don’t worry, we got it over here. We’ll throw money at it and see what happens. You guys just keep donating your hair clippings to soak up the oil. Thanks.”

Where are you US Government? I don’t care what political party you’re affiliated with, use some of your power to make things happen! Oh, that’s right, you don’t actually have any because the same people that provide your power caused this mess in the first place. Makes me sick.

I had the same long tube idea at the start of all this but didn’t submit it as thought the 100+ people at BP must have considered it and rejected it. If you can’t stop the leak, just come up with a way of collecting the oil.

You don’t have to stop a mile long tube from moving around - in the ocen that would be impossible, make the tube a mile and a half, or more and allow for flexibility. Sink 3-4 massive concrete blocks with bearings and cable etc to the sea bed, doesn’t matter where they land as long as you can resonably triangulate their position, then drop your tube and pull the cables through the blocks so that you position the tube over the well (see image), then lock the cable down to the concrete blocks using remote controlled locking motors. monitor the tube at sea bed level just incase the blocks move and adjust as necessary. As long as you have enough flexibility and flotation at the top of the tube and you use tug boats to keep it aligned so that it doesn’t twist and block flow - shouldn’t be a problem?? Of course I’ve probably missed something.

That’s a really great solution to some of the problems! Nicely done. Hey BP! You seeing this?

nice. keep the skecthes coming

I reiterate…

Another very REAL problem is … who, and how, does one contact the “proper” authority to implement any idea?

BP officials? The Obama administration? American oil companies? Jon Stewart…

I was thinking about this last night…

As much as I like that everyone is willing/interested in helping “solve” this problem. Isn’t there a bit of a condescending nature to this thread?

I can dig into the archives of this forum and find several threads of Industrial Designers (myself included) lamenting over the fact that others think they can do our job. Whether it be Marketing driving poor design decisions, or Engineering having control of the process.

Is the idea of a bunch of Designers throwing up concepts to tackle a problem that we have barely a clue of all the details a bit presumptuous if not downright condescending? Do we not assume that there are many of the worlds best minds addressing this problem right now?

If what Scott Bennett is saying, there are likely many other factors playing into this problem than we can even begin to postulate…for me that’s the bigger problem. The public is on a “need to know” basis for any information surrounding this problem. We can’t trust that the information being fed to us is covering something deeper and more ominous. From the armchair quarterback position, this seems simple to solve.

What’s I’d like to see is BP, or the US government provide a full press conference describing the problem in full. What options they’re considering, and what their next steps are…full disclosure. Essentially, I believe the world deserves a project design brief meeting.

Good call, Jon. I got a bit hostile there. It’s just frustrating that we don’t know every thing that’s going on. With the Valdez spill, we knew what was going on. A ship hit some rocks, broke open, and spilled its contents. This is quite a bit different.

I’d love to think that the worlds best minds are on this problem (even though it seems as of late there aren’t), but maybe exactly what they’re doing is the best solution right now. I think most people understand that it’s not just a faucet you can turn off.