Question Solution for Gulf Oil Spill?

Spike Spiegel

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
168
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I'm no engineer, but I'm pretty sure we've got some here on the forum. I'm hoping some of them can pick apart this idea I had for plugging the "leak" in the Gulf of Mexico. If it's a dumb idea, I want to know, and I'd like to know why it's dumb. If it's a good idea, or needs refinement, then let me know as well.

Here's the idea. Build a probe that is mounted on the end of a shaft. This shaft is probably a large screw and is driven by a motor above the probe. The outside diameter of the largest part of the entry probe is exactly the same as the inside diameter of the open pipe. The entry probe is shaped such that the oil can flow easily around it as it is moved into place. The whole probe, drive shaft, motor, and support frame are dropped onto the area from above. I figured it might need some weight to keep it down, so there are large concrete blocks for ballast. The frame I've come up with here is representational; I'm pretty sure it would be built differently, but you should get the general idea.

The center of the probe is a pipe to allow oil to flow through as the probe is inserted. Attached above this is another short pipe with a valve built in. Above that is the plate that the drive shaft pushes on. This is attached to the entry probe by three equally spaced pushrods/shafts. The bottom of the pusher plate has a curved "flow diverter"; basically a nice shape to allow the oil to keep flowing out of the way as it comes up out of the pipe. The shape I've created here may need to be altered to minimize resistance.

Once the entry probe is fully inserted, the valve is closed. I haven't figured out how to pipe out the oil after that. Like I said, I'm not an engineer. I know there's some serious pressures involved (about a ton per square inch, I read), which is why I thought a nice rounded shape would work, but I don't know if the forces can be countered by a motor as I've envisioned here.

I whipped up a very rough model of my idea in 3DS Max, and I've attached some images below. Please fire away and tell me if this sucks or not.

---







---

P.S. - I came up with an alternate probe concept which I don't have images for. Imagine a similar support structure and drive shaft system, but the entry probe instead is a smaller diameter head with an array of wedge-shaped "airbags" surrounding it. Once the entry probe is in the pipe, the "airbags" would be inflated (expanding outward to increase the diameter of the probe) to close the opening. Since I doubt actually filling the bags with air could combat the pressures there, I thought perhaps the bags could be filled by opening valves at the bottom and allowing the oil to fill the bags. I'm not sure if that would be sufficient to fully close it off though.
 

computerex

Addon Developer
Addon Developer
Joined
Oct 16, 2007
Messages
1,283
Reaction score
17
Points
0
Location
Florida
My school is nearly 13 miles from my house. It would be one hell of a job trying to get there everyday without a car ;)
That is indeed very nice graphics :D
 

Andy44

owner: Oil Creek Astronautix
Addon Developer
Joined
Nov 22, 2007
Messages
7,625
Reaction score
4
Points
113
Location
In the Mid-Atlantic states
Spike, your idea looks good, but I'm pretty sure there are similar devices already in use in the oil industry. The biggest problem the BP engineers have had to deal with, from what I've read in the news, is the cold.

What's coming out of that well isn't just oil, it's also gasses like methane and other hydrocarbon gasses, and they are extremely cold. On top of that is the cold of the water at that great depth. The first cap tnhey tried to put on the pipe didn't work because of the cold freezing the mechanical valves and other movements.

The other problem is that they don't want to stop the flow; they want to divert it into ships or storage devices, because if you stop it suddenly the pressure may force it out through another path. I think they doubt the integrity of the well's wall strength.

You know, Spike, lots of other people have been emailing in ideas to BP and the Coast Guard since this started. It's be interesting to see how your matches up. But believe me, the engineers who work for BP know as much about this stuff as anyone. While BP has become a giant target for hatred and laughter, they are still a huge company with experienced engineers whose knowledge goes back to the 1860s.
 
Last edited:

Aeadar

Lurker Representitive
Donator
Joined
Apr 30, 2009
Messages
456
Reaction score
3
Points
18

I don't hate the engineers. Management however probably deserves it. If they had heeded the engineers, the current situation most likely wouldn't exist.

I believe they are very concerned about the well walls. In fact, during the second capping attempt, "Tophat", I think it was called, once the cap was in place and they started pumping drilling mud into it, at first BP said that it would take 48hrs to tell how well it would work. Then, suddenly, 3hrs later, they said it wasn't going to work and removed it to concentrate on sucking up what oil they could from the leaksite. At the time, it was reported that oil had been seen oozing up through the rock formation around the well.


My question is, why is BP in charge of the clean-up effort? It's not in anyones interest but theirs to be in charge of the clean-up. They should pay for it, yes. But I think rather that the effected states should be 'in charge'. That way, maybe the out of work fishermen, who are being paid to do clean-up, can actually wear their resperators without being threatened with termination.
 

Andy44

owner: Oil Creek Astronautix
Addon Developer
Joined
Nov 22, 2007
Messages
7,625
Reaction score
4
Points
113
Location
In the Mid-Atlantic states
Actually, I think the Coast Guard is "in charge", but BP has the engineers and holds the lease on the well. And any government agency that wants to do the work has to hire an oil company with the engineers and skilled workers to do it. If I were running an oil company, I'm not sure I'd want to take on that job. I think BP and the government are stuck with each other.

I think the long-term technical solution they are moving towards is to drill relief wells nearby which will provide a more solid path to divert the pressure, allowing them to finally plug the current well.
 

Aeadar

Lurker Representitive
Donator
Joined
Apr 30, 2009
Messages
456
Reaction score
3
Points
18
I found this online a while back;

 

Turbinator

New member
Joined
Dec 12, 2009
Messages
1,145
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Tellurian
The solution would be for them to actually close off the leak, however they are not interested in closing off their well, which is a well that they know is tapped in to oil, that's why it's causing a spill.

What they are interested in is finding a way to capture the oil. All they see is money signs spilling out of that well. And they want a way to capture that. They are not interested in sealing it off, they never where.

If they wanted to seal it off, this could have been accomplished in week 1 of the spill. There are technologies out there designed just for such an event. However, there are no technologies out there that are designed to capture and retrieve oil from a busted well.
 

Andy44

owner: Oil Creek Astronautix
Addon Developer
Joined
Nov 22, 2007
Messages
7,625
Reaction score
4
Points
113
Location
In the Mid-Atlantic states
The solution would be for them to actually close off the leak, however they are not interested in closing off their well, which is a well that they know is tapped in to oil, that's why it's causing a spill.

What they are interested in is finding a way to capture the oil. All they see is money signs spilling out of that well. And they want a way to capture that. They are not interested in sealing it off, they never where.

If they wanted to seal it off, this could have been accomplished in week 1 of the spill. There are technologies out there designed just for such an event. However, there are no technologies out there that are designed to capture and retrieve oil from a busted well.

I don't think the evidence supports your cynical assertion. The fact is BP is taking a huge hit in bad PR and in fines, which will not be offset by the relatively small amount of oil it will get from this one well. In addition, they are under huge pressure from an angry White House, which has been made to look stupid because of this.

This is one well out of thousands, and BP already lost an entire oil rig over it (which will also cost them a fortune in lawsuits and payoffs to the rig's owner and to the families of the lost men). Sure, they'd like to get the oil out of it, but they will have to get it by drilling another hole in the future. This particular well is nothing but trouble.
 

Spike Spiegel

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
168
Reaction score
0
Points
0
All joking aside (as well as political opinions), we have a problem and the problem needs fixing.

Given the issue with low temperatures and the effect it has on valves operating properly, I attempted to come up with a "valveless" solution. I've also heard (not confirmed) that the oil isn't just coming out of the pipe. It is apparently leaking from several areas around the pipe and there is fear that the pipe may disintegrate as well. In my understanding, this is part of the reason you can't just cap it; there's a lot of pressure involved.

I thought to go back to the "put a box over it" idea, but without a traditional valve at the top. Instead, what about a one-time-use device that has a temporary plug in place near the top? The vessel could be placed over the area, with whatever ballast might be needed. After it's in place, connect the necessary pipe to the top. When that's set up and you're ready to begin collecting the oil, detonate the shaped charge at the top. The charge should be designed to blast inward/downward, avoiding damage to the pipe above and with just enough force to remove the plug.





Failing that, maybe we can use a few hundred rolls of duct tape and 20-30 cans of Great Stuff. :)
 

Keatah

Active member
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
2,214
Reaction score
0
Points
36
This is one well out of thousands, and BP already lost an entire oil rig over it (which will also cost them a fortune in lawsuits and payoffs to the rig's owner and to the families of the lost men). Sure, they'd like to get the oil out of it, but they will have to get it by drilling another hole in the future. This particular well is nothing but trouble.

The rig (owned by transocean) was rented out to bp. And transocean had that rig insured for 2x what they(transocean) paid for it. So, transocean made a small fortune when the rig sunk.
 

Urwumpe

Not funny anymore
Addon Developer
Donator
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Messages
35,776
Reaction score
265
Points
173
Location
Langendernbach
The rig (owned by transocean) was rented out to bp. And transocean had that rig insured for 2x what they(transocean) paid for it. So, transocean made a small fortune when the rig sunk.

I doubt they are very happy about it.
 

Ark

New member
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
2,200
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I say nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

The radiation would adversely affect the elderly population of the Gulf, so we better go with an RKV instead.
 
Top