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  • A Fix for the BP Spill

    Prototype for a Solution to the Gulf Oil Crisis

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    Douglas Trumbull has built and photographed a video of a scale model experiment depicting a possible solution to the Deepwater Horizon oil leak, which continues to spew millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

    Trumbull has been studying all available information regarding the wellhead, blowout preventer, broken riser pipe, and other factors such as flow rate and pressure.

    "My team and I have begun to suspect that the current wisdom regarding the pressure of the oil flow is substantially incorrect, and that the flow of oil could be readily captured with a simple “Vacuum Manifold Cap” as depicted in the video," Trumbull said. "Our experiment involved the construction of a saltwater tank, and associated plumbing, pumps, gauges, and flow controls to simulate in miniature what the Deepwater Horizon oil flow looks like at 50,000 barrels per day."

    Trumbull’s design does not need vents like BP’s LMRP cap, because the vacuum of the six riser pipes will literally “suck” the cap onto the broken flange assembly on the sea floor and immediately seal everything tight.

    “I anticipate that the pressure at the wellhead may actually be only slightly above the ambient sea pressure, therefore attaching such a cap to the fragile blowout preventer, which has suffered severe strains, should not apply any additional stress, and when a small ROV was able to knock it loose today, we are further convinced that what we think is true.” said Trumbull.

    By putting surface pumps on each of these six riser pipes, the combined “suction”, pressure, and flow rate that is developed can then exceed that of the oil that is coming from the leaking well. After this complete seal has been secured this new “vacuum manifold cap” can then be additionally clamped in place by mechanical means.

    Trumbull said, “From my own experience in films, working with fluids, tanks, pumps, and dyes for visual effects…this experiment has been a creative problem-solving project that I hope will lead to further discussion and reconsideration. It looks to me as though the pressures at the top of the blowout preventer are not nearly as high as being reported. This new Vacuum Manifold Cap concept may have the potential to reduce leakage to near zero.”

    Trumbull has been assisted in his evaluation of the Deepwater Horizon by Fred Commoner, who is a technical consultant, mathematician, and computer scientist specializing in risk analysis and reliability theory. He is also a contributing op-ed columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He can be reached at fcom-gulfcoast@usa.net.