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Re: Gulf Oil Spill - Possible Fix

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There are rams on the blowout preventer that work in a similar fashion.  One thought is that the jaws tried to crush the riser pipe but there was a joint so the double wall thickness didn't allow the jaws to completely close the pipe.

Daryl Richardson wrote:
Fellow engineers,
 
        I have had some thoughts regarding the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and I have some ideas on how to stop it.
 
        I think it should be possible to make a tool in the form of a large pair of pliers or vice grip that could simply pinch off the pipe somewhere "above" the well/sea bottom intersection thereby stopping the leak.  Such a tool would require the use of a submarine to operate the tool and a second submarine using lights and TV cameras to guide the application.  I believe the U.S. Navy could carry this out.
 
        I foresee two problems with this solution.  Perhaps some of you (and I'm thinking of Chris Wright here) could comment on these problems and/or on anything else you want.
 
Problem 1. 
        Cracks could form at the ends of the "pinch" and propagate upstream possibly causing a bigger leak than we already have.  As a solution to this problem I see using a second tool, or perhaps a second part of the primary pinching tool, that would grip the pipe upstream of the "pinch" like a pair of pliers to provide a segment of compressive hoop stress and thereby act as a crack arrester.
 
Problem 2.
        The above action should stop the flow of oil but it would also increase the internal pressure upstream of the "pinch".  This increase in pressure could possibly cause a new leak upstream of the "pinch".  I don't have a solution for this problem.
 
        Perhaps some one of you could forward this (plus any comments it generates) to someone in a position to take action on the idea.
 
Best regards to all.
 
H. Daryl Richardson