US 3369664 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Feb. 20, 1968 P. c. DAHAN 3,369,664
APPARATUS AND PROCESS FOR CONFINING FLOATING LIQUID PRODUCTS Filed April 17, 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 F/GURE 2 :5, ."fiml' 11 I N VEN TOR.
/P pu/ C. Oahu/7 @J M' Afro/nay- Feb. 20, 1968 P. c. DAHAN 3,369,664
APPARATUS AND PROCESS FOR CONFINING FLOATING LIQUID PRODUCTS Filed April 17, 1967 2 sheets-sheet 2 F/GUREE 30 33 34 30 32 l O F C d J IN VEN TOR.
Pau/ 00/200 M zc Affomey United States Patent 3,369,664 APPARATUS AND PROESS FOR CONFINING FLOATING LIQUID PRODUCTS Paul C. Dahan, Franklin Township, Hunterd'on County,
N.J., assignor to Mobil Oil Corporation, a corporation of New York Filed Apr. 17, 1967, Ser. No. 631,528 3 Claims. (Cl. 210-83) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A fioatable collar section is provided comprising an inflatable tube having attached thereto a weighed skirt located below the inflatable tube and a bulwark made semirigid by inflatable means located above the inflatable tube. A plurality of collar sections can be attached to form a flotable collar to enclose and confine a liquid floating on seawater. Means associated with the floatable collar can be provided to recover the floating liquid.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION (A) Field of the invention At the present time, a large sea-going tankers having storage capacities including a hundred thousand tons and more are employed in transporting liquid products such as crude oil or refined petroleum products. The liquid products constitute a dangerous pollution problem should they leak from the tanker since they have a density lower than sea water and will float and be spread over wide areas. These liquid products can cause a fire hazard in shipping lanes and can seriously pollute nearby land areas. Should these liquid products accidently leak from the tanker, it is highly desirable to confine them to a relatively small area-in order to facilitate their recovery or to facilitate neutralizing their pollution effects and the possible fire hazard. This requires that the liquid product confinement be initiated as soon as possible after the leaking has occurred. To permit effective use, it is essential that the confining means be capable of withstanding the forces caused by the wave action of the open seas. Furthermore, it is desirable that the confiing means be compact to facilitate on-board storage and/or easy handling for quick transportation-to the leakage site.
(B) Description of the prior art It has previously been proposed to confine liquid products leaking from ships to a relatively small area by surrounding the ship with a floating collar. In this manner, the floating liquid product is retained within the confines of the floating collar. It has previously been proposed to provide a floating collar comprising an inflatable floating tube having a weighted skirt suspended from the bottom thereof and extended vertically downward.
U.S. Patent 2,682,151 issued June 29, 1954 discloses a floating collar comprising attachable sections which can be formed into an enclosure surrounding a ship. Each section is comprised of a gas inflatable tube having a weighted skirt extending from the bottom of the inflated tube in a vertically downward direction.
U.S. Patent 2,968,928 issued January 24, 1961 also discloses an arrangement similar to that of U.S. Patent 2,682,151 in that a floating collar is provided comprised of an inflatable tube having a weighted skirt extending downwardly therefrom. U.S. Patent 2,968,928 discloses that the tube can be inflated with a foam.
The inflatable collars disclosed by the prior art, including those shown by the above-cited patents, suffer from the main disadvantage of being unsuitable for use in the open seas due to the wave forces normally encountered there. To permit use on the open seas, the inflatable collar must be capable of minimizing or preventing liquid product leakage from its confines both below and above the collar. While the prior art inflatable collars, through the use of a weighted skirt minimize leakage of liquid product from under the collar, they are seriously deficient in not providing adequate means for minimizing leakage over the collar. This problem becomes acute on the open seas due to the wave forces encountered there which can cause the collar to intermittently submerge. The use of permanently rigid means located above and attached to the collar is undesirable since compactness of the collar is lost. It is desirable that the collar, in its deflated condition be compact to reduce necessary storage area and thus a facilitate ease of handling to permit quick transportation to the leakage site or on-board storage. When the collar is not in use, it can be compressed into an accordian shape and can be wound on a reel.
In addition, the use of greatly enlarged tubes to obtain the desirable above-water height is undesirable. The buoyancy of an inflated tube is increased with an increase in its diameter. This increased buoyancy increases the possibility of the tubes being lifted from the water under the action of waves and resultant loss of liquid product. To compensate for this increased buoyancy by increasing the length of the skirt or increasing the weight attached to the skirt is equally undesirable since compactness and resultant handling of the collar arrangement in its deflated state is seriously adversely affected.
The present invention provides for floatable collar sections adapted to be attachable to form a collar for confining floating liquid products on the sea which is compact in its deflated state and which minimizes leakage both over and under the collar.
Summary of the invention Accordingly, the present invention provides a floatable inflatable collar for confining to a small area liquid product floating on the sea. The collar comprises a plurality of attached inflated collar sections arranged to form an enclosure. Each collar section comprises an inflatable tube having attached thereto a weighted skirt and a flexible bulwark made semirigid by inflatable supports. When the tube is inflated and floating, the weighted skirt extends vertically downward while the bulwark is extended vertically upward. The weighted skirt is made of flexible water proof sheet or Webbed material and has weights attached to the lowermost portion. The weights promote full downward extension of the skirt to a depth which will minimize or prevent escape of liquid product even under the force of the open sea. The bulwark is located on the tube at a position substantially diametrically opposed to the-skirt. The bulwark is comprised of a flexible water proof sheet or webbed material having an inflatable tube located on the top thereof and extending the length thereof. At spaced apart intervals along the length of the bulwark are inflatable ribs which extend from the bulwark tube downward to the main inflatable tube. The ribs are attached to the bulwark tube, the main tube and the bulwark and can be in open fluid communication with the interiors of either tube or both tubes and are located on both sides of the bulwark. In its inflated state, the bulwark provides a semirigid sheet supported by the bulwark tube and the ribs. The bulwark prevents or minimizes overflow of liquid product from the enclosed area. In its deflated state, the bulwark construction is flexible and thus can be rolled on a reel and/ or folded in a compact form to permit easy storage. The ribs are spaced apart to provide rigidity to the bulwark and canbe spaced apart from about 4 to about 15 feet and more usually between about 6 and '10 feet.
The floating collar comprising the attached collar sections can also be provided with means for removing to storage liquid product from the enclosed area.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIGURE 1 is an isometric view in cross-section of one embodiment of the collar sections herein described.
FIGURE 2 is an isometric view in cross-section of an embodiment of the collar sections wherein means are? provided for removing the liquid product from the enclosed area.
FIGURE 3 is a top view of one means for attaching two collar sections whereby leakage of liquid product between collar sections is minimized.
FIGURE 4 is a top view of the FIGURE 2 embodiment wherein means are provided for removing liquid product from the confined area.
FIGURE 5 is a top view of one method for practicing the present invention wherein two collars, each made up of a plurality of collar sections, are employed to surround and confine floating liquid product.
DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS Referring now to FIGURE 1, a collar section is shown in its inflated state. The collar section comprises an inflated tube 1 made of a flexible waterproof material. To the top surface 2 of tube 1 is attached a bulwark 3 comprised of flexible waterproof webbed or sheet material which extends the length of tube 1. To the top portion of the bulwark 3 is attached an inflatable waterproof bulwark tube 4 which extends the length of bulwark 3. At spaced apart intervals along the length of tube 1 are located strengthening inflatable ribs 5. The ribs 5 extend from the top surface 2 of tube 1 to the bulwark tube 4 and are attached to the wall 6 of bulwark 3. The interior of ribs 5 can be in fluid communication with both the interiors of tube 1 and bulwark tube 4 or can be in fluid communication with the interiors of either tube 1 or bulwark tube 4. The ribs 5 provide strength to the bulwark 3 to maintain it in vertical position above tube 1.
The dimensions of the bulwark 3 and tube 1 are such as to provide an effective barrier to floating liquid product while not seriously adversely affecting the compactness of the collar section structure. It is desirable that tube 1 be of a vertical height of from about 3 to about feet and more usually between about 4 and 6 feet. The width of tube 1 at its widest point is in the range of from about 3 to about 10 feet and more usually between about 4 to 7 feet. It is to be understood that the tube 1 0n bulwark tube 4 can be of any desired cross-sectional shape as for example circular or elliptical.
To the underside of tube 1 is attached a skirt 7 made of flexible waterproof material which extends the length of tube 1. The vertical height of the skirt 7 is also such as to provide an eflective barrier to floating liquid product while not seriously affecting the compactness of the 'collar section structure. The skirt vertical height can be between about 7 and about feet and more usually between about 8 and 11 feet. To the bottom of skirt 7 is attached a tubular means 8 for retaining weights which extend the length of skirt 7. The weights can be in any convenient form which permits the collar section to be rolled on a reel as for example a chain, granular metal particles or solid weights at spaced apart intervals along the length of tubular means 8. The use of weights in tubular means 8 permit a relatively stable vertical extension of skirt'7 in a downward direction.
Referring now to FIGURE 2, an alternative collar section in its inflated state is shown. To the top surface '11 of tube 10 is attached a bulwark 12 which extends the length of tube 10. To the top portion of bulwark 12 is attached an inflated bulwark tube 13 which extends the length of bulwark 12. At spaced apart intervals along the 4 length of tube 10 are located strengthening inflated ribs 14. The ribs extend from the top surface 11 of tube 10 to the bulwark tube 13 and are attached to the wall 15 of bulwark 12. The interior of ribs 14 can be arranged in fluid communication as described for ribs 5 in FIG- URE 1.
The dimensions of the bulwark 12, tube 1 and skirt 16 are such as to provide an eflective barrier to floating liquid product in the open seas while not seriously adversely affecting the compactness of the collar section structure and can have the dimensions described for FIGURE 1.
The tube 10 has a hooked cross-sectional shape with the hook 17 being located adjacent the floating liquid product. The book shape for tube It) produces a skimming effect and thus provides a convenient means for removing and recovering floating liquid product 18. The hook 17 is located below the surface of floating liquid product and provides a partial barrier to sea Water 19 while permitting liquid product 18 to enter recess 20. To the wall 21 of tube 10 can be attached a flexible conduit 22 or a plurality of flexible conduits which extend through wall 23 and which are in fluid communication with the liquid product 18 in recess 20. Suction can then be applied to conduit 22 to withdraw floating liquid prodnot 18 from the enclosed area to storage means including ships not shown.
To the bottom of tube It) is attached a skirt 16 which extends the length of tube 10 and provides an effective barrier to liquid product 18. To the bottom of skirt 16 is attached a tube means 24 adapted to retain weights in a manner described above for FIGURE 1.
Referring now to FIGURE 3, means for attaching adjacent collar sections to provide an enclosure about the leaking area are shown. The collar sections 30 having bulwark tubes 31 and ribs 32 are provided at their ends with flexible seal flaps 33. The seal flaps are made of a flexible waterproof material and can be part of a unitary construction with the collar sections 30. In attaching the collar sections 30, an inflatable seal is placed 'between the seal flaps 33. The inflatable seal 34 is tubular shaped and is equipped with a weighted skirt such as is shown in FIGURES 1 and 2. The seal flaps 33 are located on opposing sides of inflatable seal 34 and are lashed into position in any convenient manner as for example by ropes or chains. By employing the means shown by FIG- URE 3, leakage of floating product between adjacent collar sections is minimized.
Referring now to FIGURE 4, a top view is shown of one means for removing and recovering floating liquid product is shown. A collar section 40 of FIGURE 2 having a bulwark tube 41 and ribs 42 is employed to confine a floating liquid product 43. The liquid product is separated from sea water by a hook shaped skimming means 44 and recess described above for FIGURE 2. The liquid product is withdrawn through conduits 45 and into a main flexible conduit 46 under a suction force applied to conduit 46. The conduits 45 and 46 are flexible and are adapted to float on the sea surface. The liquid product is directed from conduit 46 to a storage area not shown which is usually a ship equipped with means for applying suction to conduit 46.
Referring now to FIGURE 5, a ship 56 from which floating liquid product is leaking is surrounded by two relatively concentric floating collars 51 and 52. Each floating collar 51 and 52 is formed by a plurality of collar sections such as shown in FIGURES l and 2. The collar sections can be attached by the lashing means shown in FIGURE 3 or in any well known manner as for example with hooks. The collars 51 and 52 are formed by placing a deflated collar section in the water and then inflating the collar section. The inflating can be accomplished by having attached to the collar section a compressed gas in.- flating device such as well known CO or nitrogen cartridges or the like which release compressed gas by simply pulling a line. The compressed gas cartridges can form part of the collar section construction in a manner which permits their replacement after use. Each collar section is also provided with valve means for releasing gas from the collar section after use. Inflation of the main tube and the bulwark tube and ribs for each collar section can be accomplished simultaneously with one or a plurality of inflating means. Furthermore inflation of the main tube can be accomplished independently of the inflation of the bulwark tube and ribs. The collar sections are then attached to enclose the liquid product leaked from the ship. One collar 51 can be employed to enclose the ship 50 or a number of relatively concentric collars such as collar 52 can be employed inconjunction with collar 51 to exercise improved confinement of liquid product to a rela tively small area. 7
Once the collar sections are attached to form an enclosure around the ship 50, it desirable to anchor the collars 51 and 52 to prevent their being battered against the ship by the force of the sea. Furthermore it is within the scope of this invention to employ small ships adapted to skim the liquid product from the sea within the areas 53 and 54.
The bulwark construction employed for the collars of the present invention provide substantial advantages not present in prior art constructions. In its deflated state, the bulwark, as well as the remainder of the collar, is flexible which provides for easy storage. In use, the bulwark provides an etfective means for preventing overflow of liquid product while not substantially adding to the buoyancy of the collar section. When the buoyancy of the collar is excessive, it will become cork-like in the open sea and will be easily lifted from the water by the wave action. This is undesirable since loss of liquid product is effected thereby.
It it within the scope of the present invention to further control excessive buoyancy of the collar by providing the outside walls of the main tube with sponge-like material capable of absorbing water as for example polymerized foam material including polyurethane or polystyrene. The foam material can be retained against the outside tube wall by a sheet material having a plurality of holes there.- in and attached to the outside main tube wall. In this manner, the distadvantages effected by excessive buoyancy are further reduced.
The materials employed in the construction of the collar should be flexible, waterproof and have adequate strength to resist the force of waves. Sheet material or webbed material can be employed including nylon, heavy duty rubber and rubberized canvas which may or may not be reenforced with flexible metal fibers or cables.
1. A collar section adapted to float on the sea and to retain a floating liquid comprising;
(a) a main inflatable tube,
(b) a flexible skirt extending the length of said tube,
(c) the topmost portion of said skirt being attached to said tube throughout its length,
(d) weighted means being attached to the bottommost portion of said skirt,
(e) a bulwark extending the length of said tube and attached to said tube at the bulwarks bottommost portion throughout the length of said tube in a position substantially diametrically opposed to said skirt,
(f) an inflatable bulwark tube located on the topmost portion of said bulwark, and
(g) a plurality of inflatable ribs in spaced apart relationship attached to the bulwark and extending from said main tube to said bulwark tube.
2. The collar section of claim 1 having a flexible seal flap extending from each of the Opposing ends of the main inflatable tube.
3. A collar adapted to retain floating liquid in a confined area, said collar being formed by attaching end to end a plurality of the collar sections defined in claim 1.
SAMIH N. ZAHARNA, Primary Examiner.