James Cameron Wants to Stop BP's Oil Disaster, Can Our Readers Do Better?

Gulf oil spill

The BP oil disaster in the Gulf gets more depressing by the day. BP's latest attempt to slow the spill with a containment dome isn't going so well, Florida officials tell us that oil could reach state beaches by Thursday, and at least one energy investment firm isn't counting out the possibility that the well could keep on leaking until Christmas—or for the next decade. Even nuking the spill isn't out of the question, according to NG Oil and Gas (method pictured above). Things have gotten so desperate that Avatar director James Cameron is now consulting with U.S. officials on possible solutions to the spill. Can FastCompany.com readers do better? We've received a number of creative ideas in recent days. Below, some of our favorites.

  • Dan Bailey suggests placing a large diameter pipe over the leak, attaching a flex hose (pipe or sheathing) to tankers, and putting booms or a containment structure around the top opening of the hose. Underwater robots could attach the lower end of the containment device to the one-mile-long flex hose with clamps or other means. Bailey believes that there will be no pressure to deal with as long as there are no restrictions in flex line and the diameter is large enough. He explains, "Oil will be guided up to the surface for scavenging by the tankers. Booms or containment will reduce spillage at the top."
  • Similarly, Joseph Pearson suggests simulating a blocked artery by inserting a 100-foot steel pipe into the leak that is the same circumference as the leak on one end and narrowed on the other end. The interior of the pipe could be coated with a rubber-like material that can break free and clog the pipe as it rises toward the narrow exit. Pearson also offers this jab at the Titanic director: "Say hey to James Cameron for me and ask him why he didn't come up with this."
  • Matthew Chase Daniel offers up this suggestion: "Build a special pipe/plug into the well. This would be a pipe with a smaller diameter than the existing pipe, allowing the oil to flow around it while being inserted. Than there is a system to inflate/expand the exterior wall of this pipe (like a bicycle tire). This inflation seals the pipe to the walls of the existing well pipe. Now the oil flows only in the interior pipe and can be collected." The New York Post points to a similar solution from Alia Sabur, who suggests surrounding a pipe with deflated car tires, inserting the pipe into the broken riser, and inflating the wheels to make a seal. BP, are you listening?

Want to read about some of the other creative solutions proposed by our readers? Check them out here, here, and here. And please email us or post more ideas in the comments—we'd love to hear from you!

 Read more about the Gulf Oil Spill

Got information on the spill you want to share? Email us at oil@fastcompany.com. It'll go directly to the lead reporter and editor on these stories, and they'll assume all initial communication to be strictly confidential.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email

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