BP is the mother of all corporate thugs. Necessity is the mother of invention:
Matherne's apparatus looks like a trash bag in a big crab trap, but it works like a sieve to snag sludge and oil while seawater passes through. BP officials say they aim to build and deploy 100 units by the end of the month, and add more after that if needed.
You could draw plans for a contraption like that with a crayon, as opposed to the vastly complicated renderings of inventions that lead nowhere. I love that.
All kinds of scientists, experts, and bloggers have sent BP 120,000 + ideas. I'm aware of a couple of those blogger ideas. It was clear to many of us they were faulty, too expensive, or had been done before, but hey, it was worth a shot.
And for that reason, only about a dozen ideas have made it to the field test phase. Here's one that is, thankfully, not an option:
Others urged exploding a nuclear weapon in the seafloor to seal the ruptured well.
That would violate U.S. and international law, and could wreak far more devastation than an oil leak, among other problems. BP has ruled out "use of explosives, including nuclear," according to its website.
Frank Maisano, spokesman for TMT Shipping said that "high waves and BP's heavy use of chemical dispersants had thinned and broken up the oil", and that created complications for big tankers called super skimmers and their ability to collect it.
That is only one reason dispersants have been a mistake from the beginning. They're also toxic as anything, which you can read about here.
Matherne's idea is a whole lot simpler. It's called the Heavy Oil Recovery Device, or HORD.
It uses a 6-foot-long bag made of the same synthetic mesh in lawn furniture. The bag is secured inside a large cage with an open end, like a trash bag in a kitchen pail.
When the floating cage is towed at slow speed, the porous bag captures weathered oil — the tarry globs that wash ashore — but lets seawater flow through. After a ton of tar balls fills the bag, it is cinched closed and hauled on deck, and a clean bag goes in the cage.
I know what you're thinking, that it's too expensive, too costly, and that he's just in it for the money. Nope. It would cost $42 per bag and $6,000 per cage. That's less than a more sophisticated mechanism would run, right? And Matherne was already a BP employee, so they're not paying him for the HORD.
I can't decide if I think that's a good thing or whether I think they're stiffing him, as in, he should get paid a fortune if his gadget ends up being as successful as it sounds.
The disposable bags in the HORD eliminate the pumps and vacuums. Engineers hope they also can link cages in static lines to protect vital channels and fragile coastal wetlands and estuaries. [...]
"They say there's no silver bullet, but I think I've come pretty close," Matherne said with satisfaction as he watched from a nearby boat.
He'll be a hero if it works, even with a bronze bullet.