Monday, May 31, 2010

" And yes, it IS the entire Gulf of Mexico building pressure in the pipe, which makes capping a heluva problem."

What can we do in the meantime?

The way I envision pneumatic control being used quickly is both near shore and above the leak at shallow depth, constructed of coil tubing available in lengths of approximately 5000 meters. Hydrotechnik, the company that builds pneumatic oil control systems will, given the seriousness of the situation, lend their expertise and tell us what depth to place pipe of what diameter, the volume and pressure of air required, and the sizing and spacing of the holes in the pipes.

Pneumatic oil control in place

System sketch of Pneumatic Oil Barrier Bubble Curtain for Sound attenuation during pile driving

Here's some pics of pneumatic containment:
I have recently come across a type of oil containment system that looks to have been viewed as promising by USCG and industry at one time and may offer great promise in containing the spill at the source and/or protecting shorelines. It is known as pneumatic oil containment. It offers rapidly deployable, somewhat effective spill control even in waters that are influenced by wave and current action. I have seen no mention of it's use in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. I urge you to forward this information to anyone who might be effective in it's utilization to protect the environment in the region.
Also, a professor at the University of Miami School of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Kau Wong, has done a great deal of research on oil boom effectiveness and I would suggest including him as a consultant on oil containment.
Thank You,
Julian Shulman

Here are good descriptions of pneumatic oil containment although the translations are not necessarily perfect:
In depth analysis can be found here:



Together we're better - Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Support Community

To whom it may concern:

The image here:

is the basis for a theory that surface containment and recovery of oil should be feasible if the spill is viewed as a point source of pollution on the surface. this point was probably quickly and has continued to be obscured visually from the surface and air by rapidly accumulating pollutants Please note the clearly defined v shape of oil originating at a point almost due east from the red mark indicating the position of Deepwater Horizon.
At this site:
Gulf of Mexico Wind Chart, one can look at wind conditions as far as 1 month prior. During the first few days of May, there were strong winds blowing to the North
I propose that it is possible that a renewed effort to contain and collect the pollutants
that reach the surface should be feasible if the proper technology is utilized to model the path of pollutants as they travel through the water column from the damaged equipment on the sea floor. The technology may include but not necessarily be limited to mathematical modelling, sonar,and or the release of marker containers filled with liquids of similar specific gravity as the leaking oil, from the leak sites, the distribution of which can be plotted upon their arrival at the surface.
I postulate that the northern travel of the oil on the surface for a distance of several kilometers was largely driven by wind, and that this direction of initial travel on the surface should not be assumed to remain constant. Preparations should be made to adjust and/or augment the containment system as needed for changing wind and surface current conditions.The path of ascending oil is less likely to change significantly, but should be monitored nonetheless. The US Navy has extensive data and predictive capabilities for conditions in the area: Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea(i've ignored my web browser's security warnings to go to this site with no ill effect. It is run by the US navy)

It appears that the technique of containing oil with floating boom placed in parallel to shorelines or in rings around vessels is out of date. (Dr. Vincent Wong , U.of Miami, mechanical engineering)The booms are subjected to great stresses and oil either goes over or under them unless surface conditions are very calm. However there are booming systems that are more effective. I am not aware of which firms have the best boom placement techniques, but I will help find them. In addition, the utilization of pneumatic oil control may offer great promise, both in protecting the shores and wetlands and in containing the pollution near the source. Although never been at great depths, it as well as other non-interventional mitigation techniques which will not result in additional pollution should be attempted quickly. There are firms in Europe which can provide systems and information relating to the best design of these systems is available. I believe that if the coiled tubing and vessels equipped with advanced geopositioning systems that offshore companies possess were included in the design of systems, large areas could soon be protected offshore. The tubing could be capped on one end and positioned, the first sections could be perforated as spooled out while additional sections are being perforated in advance. The tubing can be hung from floats and sea anchors between anchors until it can be moored, if extensive mooring is even necessary or beneficial.

It might be worthwhile to think of pneumatic oil control as a possible alternative to the construction of sand berms either permanently or as an interim measure. Obviously it can be built quickly, the air supply units can be housed on floating platforms. As an additional benefit pneumatic barriers oxygenate the water in which they are placed. Oxygen depletion is a common ecological impact of oil contaminated environments.

Any application of this technology at great depth is, to my knowledge untested. It would not be hard to test though. Application of this technology in rough waters, especially as a breakwater, appears to be well tested. As we know, hurricane season is approaching.

Please keep in mind that the appropriate respiratory protection for on-site workers is of the utmost importance. These people are a crucial part of the solution that if unable to function or working while impaired will eliminate any chances of it's success. The appropriate protection of their health is readily available and relatively cheap. It is unforgivable to not supply it.

What follows is a description of a concept that I proposed quite some time ago. I have given it low priority because there are several obvious barriers to it's use.
It would require extensive cooperation from the entities that are operating directly above the damaged equipment. To design it properly requires information regarding the spread of pollution as it ascends which although I have requested, I have been unable to access. This would mainly affect the minimum depth to which such a device would have to extend to be effective; the lower that value , the more feasible the rapid construction. It may require pumps placed along it's length. This concept does however have some merit. There are probably long chain hydrocarbons escaping which will not rise to the surface unassisted. Chief among issues which must be taken into account are the frictional forces that will act on the structure and the fluid moving through it. This friction will be reduced by making the diameter larger. Also, there is the possibility that the hydrostatic pressure at depth will have a degradative effect on the material itself. This can be tested. Please bear in mind that this device is designed to allow pressure equalization between the interior and exterior. While this may reduce it's effectiveness, it will also greatly improve the chances of it's structural integrity being maintained by lowering the forces that it will be subjected to from currents and the contained material. It must be kept in mind that roughly every 30' that a gas bubble rises, it will double in size. Obviosly this is a major engineering project. What I do know is that plastic sheeting required to build something like this is available, (Raven Industries, Poly-Flex in Dallas -can also assist with joinery) Please note that the rigid pipe mentioned below is all really far too small in diameter to likely be effective on it's own. in any case, with, the possible exception of galvanized drainage pipe,(Contech I was unable to locate significant lengths of rigid pipe that would be available right away. I can easily provide the best materials sources that I did locate. This is an early version of the concept.

A large diameter tube can be constructed and the bottom positioned above the source of each leak. It should be large enough to allow the plume to enter the bottom and rise unrestricted. Seawater will settle and exit around it(the plume). If this tube is large enough and made in a way that some fluid can flow in and out of it at intervals along it's length, then neither the sea pressure that is encountered at any depth nor the column of oil inside it will subject it to extreme stress. Although some oil will probably escape these vents, if they are made correctly, it will be a small amount. I theorize that a round shaped tube will not have such great stresses placed on it by deep water currents that it cannot be made in a way that can withstand them;my understanding is that the deep currents in the area are not very fast. The tube can be made of fiberglass, metal or plastic pipe or plastic sheeting stitched together(it's remarkably strong). Each material has it's advantages and disadvantages; weight, buoyancy, availability of materials, speed and ease of construction.
I suggest that the top of the devices be located at a depth that will remain calm even during heavy weather. I believe a depth of around 30 feet meets that criteria during most storms. Perhaps a cap or semi submerged ring can be built to carry oil and gas to the surface from there. Fluid can be pumped from the top of the tube. If the leaking fluid can be brought that close to the surface, the area that any fluid that may escape the pump inlet(s) will spread to can be contained relatively easily as compared to the current situation.
I know that to build pipes of this length and maintain their position in the ocean is a major undertaking. I am also sure that it can be done with the right engineering, anchors, cables, and buoys, etc.

If the reader has any influence in possible subsea riser repair, I recommend contacting TDWilliamson offshore in Norway.

Please keep in mind that I may may be dead wrong in my legal interpretations.BP has a legal liability cap of 75 million. They know they'll reach that.They pay a penalty of around 3000 for each barrel that hits water. Of course their efforts are focused on subsea repair. At 5000 barrels daily that's 15 million every day they pay whether it's cleaned up or not. I believe that this site would be eligible for superfund (CERCLA) designation.Correction: There is a petroleum exception for CERCLA. There is an EPA process to initiate that which I think should be initiated, but would like to get more input and opinions first. I think it is initiated by asking EPA to evaluate site for that specific purpose. I don't know if anyone has done that. .
I believe the government can take over, hire who they need but are reluctant to do so. If situation does not improve, I think another organization should attempt oil salvage after notifying the Coast Guard and defend it's action in court if necessary. If informed that such action would be prohibited, they should sue in Fed. District Court based on maritime salvage law and others and ask for injunctive relief to allow them to protect the environment.

Due to the vulgar language contained in the video below, I seriously debated whether or not to post it. I have decided that the content holds the potential to aid wildlife and the environment and so it may be viewed here. I have requested the production of a clean language version that would perhaps be taken more seriously.


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    Couldn't find you on twitter.

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