This is a crude block diagram of a clamp on apparatus that could be used to block most of the flow from the Deepwater Horizon riser pipe leaking in the Gulf.
The clamp-on apparatus is extremely simplified for this rushed drawing. It would be relatively “easy” to make a mid-sized machine shop and laser cutting shop.
This would require one of the “circular saws” the robotic subs are currently using to cut up pipes to cut the slot in the outer diameter of the pipe.
Actuating the various screws to complete the plug operation could be done by robotic sub or dedicated undersea electric motor or pneumatic tool driven by compressors on the surface…. I’d defer to deep-sea equipment specialists for the selection.
The shaped plug plates can be laser cut and laminated to any thickness.
A 2″ drilled hole on the “bottom” of the pipe diameter as depicted would allow for greater support for a 2″ steel bar spanning the entire diameter and mechanically support the plates and protect them from bending. This bar can be cam-shaped (crude cam) so that the “P” shaped plates can be pushed forward toward the well (vs the surface) for a better seal.
This can be made in a few days in a mid-sized shop.
DON’T CUT THE RISER PIPE WITHOUT A MECHANICAL PLUG BACKUP TO THE DOME!!!
THE KINKS ARE RESTRICTING FLOW! THE FLOW WILL BE GREATER!!!
I’ll post a little detail on the clamp on rig later. I’m just trying to get the idea out that there’s a not-so-complex apparatus that can be made and put on the riser. Anything… Anything to decrease the effective diameter and the flow rate of crude into the gulf.
The steel plates inserted overlapping each other are shaped like the letter “P” so that they can be moved to block more of the diameter.
There is a risk of bending, even if they are thick. There are ways to deal with this rather simply though.
My point is that it’s not brain surgery. And yes, there are all kinds of challenges operating at this depth, but the robotic subs are already cutting pipes with a circular saw down there. This is big, fairly crude steel gizmo construction. Crystallized methane hydrates won’t be a factor if the pipe is plugged.