|Publication number||US3592006 A|
|Publication date||Jul 13, 1971|
|Filing date||Feb 18, 1969|
|Priority date||Feb 18, 1969|
|Publication number||US 3592006 A, US 3592006A, US-A-3592006, US3592006 A, US3592006A|
|Inventors||Arturo M Crucet|
|Original Assignee||Cerebro Dynamics Inc|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (2), Referenced by (24), Classifications (13)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent Inventor Arturo M. Crucet Oklahoma City, Okla. Appl. No. 800,201 Filed Feb. 18, I969 Patented July 13, I971 Assignee Ccrebro-Dynamics, Incorporated Oklahoma City, Okla.
ISOLATION DEVICE 11 Claims, 6 Drawing Figs.
US. Cl 61/1, 1 14/05 Int. Cl B63h 35/00 Field oiScarch ..ll4/0.5,0.5 T; 61/1, 1 F, 5
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,682,l5l 6/1954 Simpson et al ..1 14/05 (T) UX FOREIGN PATENTS 442,661 2/1936 Great Britain l 14/0.5 T
Primary Examiner-Trygve M. Blix Attomey-Burns, Doane, Benedict & Mathis ABSTRACT: A buoyant isolation device is provided which is capable of confining contamination (e.g. an oil slick) present upon the surface of a body of water while conforming in configuration to surface undulations. The device comprises a buoyant elongated flexible barrier which is provided with a plurality of closed fluid chambers. Through the use of a coupling element having a pair of slots which engage the barrier, contamination confined by the barrier may be readily concentrated prior to subsequent removal.
j ISOLATION DEVICE BACKGROUND or THE INVENTION In recent years there has been a growing awareness on the part of responsible citizens of the need to effectively deal with contamination present in rivers, ponds, lakes, and oceans. Contamination frequently encountered takes the form of liquids less dense than water, e.g. petroleum products, which float upon and spread across a water surface. Also, solid particulate refuse may float upon or be suspended near a water surface, e.g. industrial byproducts such as sawdust.
Water pollution of the above types not only is aesthetically unattractive, but is often accompanied by significant economic loss. Whenever petroleum products or other flammable liquids are present upon a water surface, a fire hazard is created for ships in the vicinity as well as for adjacent landbased property. Wildlife, including game birds, fish, and marine organisms, may be destroyed in staggering numbers by uncontrolled water pollution. Beaches may become fouled for miles, and resort areas rendered uninviting to the detriment of their owners.
While some of the water pollution encountered is unfortunately the result of the willful discharge of pollutants into a body of water, e. g. waste oil discharge, much may be traced to accidents or other mishaps occurring at sea or in close proximity thereto. For instance, it is not uncommon for a tanker carrying a cargo of a petroleum product to run aground or to otherwise become damaged during a collision or severe storm. Also, quantities of petroleum products have been known to become lost near to shore during tanker loading and unloading operations, or adjacent offshore drilling rigs. Once present upon the surface of water, such products have the propensity to spread rapidly and may be driven by the wind and waves hundreds of miles within a relatively short period of time. The danger of widespread loss resulting from oil spillage is becoming more acute as larger and larger tankers are coming into use and offshore drilling is more widely practiced.
Various apparatus and techniques have been proposed in the prior art to mitigate the losses caused by water pollution. For instance, chemical and physical contaminant control methods have been proposed with varying degrees of success. Surfactants of numerous types have been applied to oil spills in an effort to disperse the same and place the oil in a form which may be more rapidly degraded. Unfortunately, such dispersal techniques have proven to be highly costly, the surfactants themselves may be toxic to wildlife, and adjoining sand beaches may have their properties adversely influenced because of residual quantities of surfactant present in the same. Some petroleum products may be effectively eliminated by burning provided wave action does not break the oil mass into many discrete patches and the oil does not contain an appreciable quantity of a difficulty flammable fraction. Solid materials such as sawdust, straw or sugar cane bagasse have been spread upon oil to absorb the same, and later removed. Such techniques are, however, frequently accompanied by high labor costs such as required to transport the absorbent, to apply the same, and to remove the same from the water surface.
Additionally, floating collars or barriers have been proposed to control the movement of contamination present upon the surface of a body of water. See for instance, U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,397,891 and 1,397,892 to Jones, 2,330,508 to McColl, 2,240,567 to Mecham et al., 2,682,151 to Simpson et al., 3,146,598 to Smith, and 3,221,884 to Muller. Such floating collars produced heretofore have tended to be relatively rigid and resistant to vertical bending.
It is an object of the invention to provide an improved isolation device for the containment of contamination floating upon the surface of a body of water.
It is an object of the invention to provide a buoyant barrier which is particularly adapted to conform to the surface undulations of a body of water while confining surface contamination.
It is an object of the invention to provide a buoyant barrier which is particularly suited for the isolation of a liquid less dense than water, such as a petroleum product, which is floating upon the surface of a body of water.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved buoyant barrier for water contamination which is of simple construction, light in weight, conveniently stored, and readily deployable.
It is a further object of the invention to provide isolation device which is capable of efficiently concentrating contamination retained within the same so that removal thereof subsequently may be conducted in an expeditious manner.
These and other objects, as well as the scope, nature and utilization of the invention will be apparent from the drawing, the following detailed description, and appended claims.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It has been found that an improved buoyant isolation device comprises an elongated member having flexible fluid distensible sidewalls and a top portion and a bottom portion, means for retaining fluid between the sidewalls, means spaced longitudinally along the elongated member for dividing the member into a plurality of fluid chambers, and coupling means having a pair of slots cooperating with the elongated member to confine contamination floating upon the surface of a body of water ad facilitate its concentration when the elongated member is in a loop configuration. In a preferred embodiment of the invention the fluid chambers contain a quantity of a fluid less dense than water sufficient to form a buoyancy portion and a curtain portion when placed in a body of water. DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 if a front elevation view of a buoyant barrier of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a portion of the buoyant barrier of FIG. 1 with the barrier out of water.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a portion of the barrier of FIG. I with the barrier floating upon a body of water and con fining oil present upon the water surface.
FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of a coupling capable of securing the free ends of the buoyant barrier and facilitating the concentration of oil confined by the barrier.
FIG. 5 is a view of the buoyant barrier of the invention essentially surrounding oil present upon the surface of a body of water prior to insertion of the coupling of FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a view of the buoyant barrier of the invention surrounding oil present upon the surface of a body of water with the ends of the barrier secured by the coupling of FIG. 4 prior to the concentration of the oil by passage of the end portions of the barrier through the coupling. DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring to FIG. I the buoyant barrier l of the present invention is provided with an elongated member 2 having fluid distensible sidewalls formed of flexible sheet material. Suitable materials for use in the construction of the sidewalls include rubber, rubber impregnated fabrics, or synthetic polymeric sheet materials with or without fibrous reinforcement. The flexible sheet material is essentially water and gas impervious and preferably inert, lightweight, and fireproof, and capable of long life while in contact with various contaminants.
The elongated member 2 of barrier l is divided into a plurality of fluid chambers 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 by dividing means 16, I8, 20, and 22. For instance, the elongated member 2 may be divided into a plurality of sealed fluid chambers by an adhesive, sewing, heat-sealing, solvent-sealing, a flexible sheet material, or any other suitable means. When a flexible sheet material is used to form dividing means 16, I8, 20, and 22, the dividing means preferably have a configuration which approximates the configuration assumed by a cross section of the chambers while floating on water. The upper portion 24 and the bottom portion 26, as well as ends 28 and 30, of the elongated mernber 2 may be similarly closed. If desired, the elongated mernber 2 may be formed from a continuous tube wherein the upper portion 24 and the bottom portion 26 is inherently closed and is rendered capable of retaining fluid upon the sealing of ends 28 and 30.
The fluid chambers 6, 6, l0, l2, and 14 have a volume greater than the displacement of the isolation device or barrier l in a body of water. A fluid less dense than water is provided in the fluid chambers in a quantity sufiicient to partially distend the sidewalls of elongated member 2 while preserving the vertical and horizontal flexibility of the barrier l. The fluid utilized in the fluid chambers if preferably a gas, and ordinary air is utilized in a particularly preferred embodiment of invention. The fluid chambers may optionally contain liquid less dense than water, such as liquid hydrocarbon. The quantity of fluid placed inthe fluid chambers 6, 8, l6, l2, and M is sufficient so that the fluid chambers are capable of forming a buoyancy portion and a curtain portion when placed in a body of water. The quantity of fluid present in the fluid chambers is not so great that a rigid inflexible barrier results. The fluid may be placed in the fluid chambers ofthe barrier l at the time of it manufacture; however, valves (not shown) may be provided which communicate with each fluid chamber and fluid supplied by the user prior to use. It is recommended that the fluid be supplied at the time the barrier is manufactured so that it will be ready for immediate deployment without further modification. The resulting barrier l is relatively compact and lightweight particularly if the fluid contained in chambers 6, 8, 10,12, and 14 is a gas.
The number of adjoining fluid chambers forming elongated member 2 may be varied widely. It is preferred, however, that the length of a given section of the barrier ll be such that easy handling is facilitated. When relatively short sections of barrier 1 are provided, fasteners may be positioned on at least one end of the barrier 1 such as zippers 36 and 39 for joining like sections of the barrier prior to or during use. Other fastening means such as snaps or clips which are capable of forming an essentially liquid impervious connection may likewise be selected. The length of the barrier i may thereby be adjusted to conform to the extent of the contamination. If desired, the length of the buoyant barrier I may extend up to thousands of feet.
The fluid chambers 6, 8, l0, l2, and M1 are preferably rectangular in configuration and preferably have a longitudinal dimension prior to placement in water essentially equal to the vertical dimension. The height of the chambers may vary from a few inches to as much as feet or more depending upon the conditions under which the barrier l is to be used. When it is intended for the barrier l to be used to contain minor quantities of contamination on relatively calm bodies of water, then barriers having a fluid chamber height of 1 foot or less may be utilized. When used at sea or in connection with appreciable quantities of contamination, barriers having fluid chambers of greater heights are recommended.
A plurality of dorsal loops 32, 34, and 36 optionally may be provided adjacent the upper portion 24 of elongated member 2. The loops are preferably flexible or otherwise of a configuration which will readily cooperate with the coupling of FIG. 4 described hereafter. For instance, the loops may be projecting portions of a flexible rope or cable which extends the length of barrier I and is secured thereto by any convenient means. The dorsal loops may be spaced at varying intervals along the upper portion 24 of elongated member 2, and are useful during the deployment of the buoyant barrier 1.
Situated adjacent the bottom portion 26 of elongated member 2 optionally may be provided an extended portion 410 which includes a plurality of surge vents 42, and weights 441. The surge vents 412, and weights M may alternatively be placed within the lower extremity of the fluid chambers 6, 8. l0, l2, and M provided the retention of fluid within the same is not impaired. The surge vents 62 comprise fittings provided with an opening through which water may freely flow, and impart added stability (e.g. drift reduction) to the barrier 1 while it is floating in water. The weights serve the function of maintaining the fluid chambers 6, 8, l0, l2, and 141 of elongated member 2, as well as extended portion 40, in an essentially vertical plane.
In FIG. 2 a perspective view of a portion of the buoyant barrier of FIG. 1 is shown with the barrier out of water. The fluid chamber is provided with fluid distensible sidewalls 46 and 88 and contains air within its interior 50. The resulting barrier remains flexible and may be conveniently stored by suspension from dorsal loop 34 as well as from other like loops (not shown).
In FIG. 3 a perspective view of a portion of the buoyant barrier of FIG. 1 is shown with the barrier floating upon a body of water 52 and confining the spread of oil 54 floating upon the surface. When the barrier is placed in water, the configuration of fluid chamber 110 is modified by water pressure and the air present within its interior is forced upward. The fluid chamber it) accordingly forms a buoyancy portion 56 and curtain portion 58. The air present within the buoyancy portion 56 is cable of maintaining the buoyancy of the barrier. Commonly the height of the curtain portion 58 is approximately 2 to 6 times that of the buoyancy portion 56. The curtain portion 58 is capable of retaining surface and subsurface contamination floating upon or suspended near the water surface. The buoyancy portion 56 remains highly flexible even though the barrier is under the influence of water pressure.
In FIG. 4 a coupling 60 is shown which is designed to engage and cooperate with the buoyant barrier l and confine contamination floating upon the surface of a body of water and facilitate its concentration when the barrier assumes a loop configuration. The exact configuration and construction of the coupling 60 may be varied. The coupling 60 is provided with a pair of slots 62 and 64 within which each end of the buoyant barrier ll may be placed. Arms 66 and 68 engage the ends of the barrier l and web portion 70 effectively prevents contamination confined by the barrier ll from escaping. It is recommended that the coupling 60 be formed of lightweight or otherwise buoyant material which will not cause the total submersion of the barrier it engages. For instance, the arms 66 and 68 may be formed from a hollow sealed pipe, or at least partially filled with a buoyant cellular material, such as expanded polystyrene beads shown at 72 and 74. The web portion 70 optionally may be formed of wood or other buoyant material. Loop 76 may be utilized for securing the coupling and lowering it into position. One of the two arms 66 and 68 may serve a clamping function and retain the coupling 60 at a fixed location along the barr er 1 while the other arm slidably engages the barrier ll. Conversely, the friction provided by the arms 66 and 68 upon the barrier 1 may be such that the barrier may be simultaneously drawn through both slots 62 and 64 In FIG. 5 a buoyant barrier in accordance with the present invention is shown as it partially surrounds an oil slick 78 floating upon a body of water 80.
In FIG. 6 coupling 70 is placed in position to form an isolation device which completely surrounds oil slick 78. The ends 82 and 84 of the barrier are passed through arms 66 and 68 of coupling 70. The buoyancy portions 86 and 88 of the fluid chambers are deformed as the ends 82 and 84 of the barrier are passed through coupling 70 to form an essentially continuous barrier for the oil slick 78. By continuing to pull either or both of the ends 82 and 343 through the arms 66 -and 68 of coupling 70 the oil confined by the isolation device is efficiently concentrated to a confined slick of increasing depth. As coupling 70 floats or is otherwise maintained at water level, a portion of the barrier may be passed through the same and drawn on board ship where it is stored for future use. Since the barrier of the present invention is highly flexible, it may conform completely and automatically to normal waves and retain contamination. Since the barrier is provided with a plurality of closed chambers, the supporting fluid is not displaced from one area of the barrier to another during use with concomitant uncontrolled sagging.
The present invention is particularly suited for use with liquid contaminants such as petroleum products which are less dense than water, and float upon the surface of a body of water. Solid particulate contamination may also be confined, such a refuse, industrial waste, sawdust, seaweed, etc., which floats upon or is suspended near to the surface of a body of water. The spread of contamination may be stopped by deploying the barrier from a barge, ship or other towing mechanism. The barrier is particularly suited for completely surrounding contamination. Once surrounded, the device containing the contamination may be anchored at a fixed location, towed to an area where the contamination does not present a problem and released, or the contamination may be removed by conventional techniques. For instance, oil may be conveniently removed following its concentration by suction techniques which have been of only margin utility heretofore because of the minute thickness of oil slicks commonly encountered. The oil that is retrieved following concentration with the isolation device of the present invention is particularly suited reclamation and commonly requires minimal treatment to remove residual quantities of water.
Although the invention has been variations with preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that variations and modifications may be resorted to as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such variations and modifications are to be considered within the scope and purview of the claims appended hereto.
I. A buoyant isolation device comprising a continuous elongated member having flexible fluid distensible sidewalls and a top portion and a bottom portion, means for retaining fluid between said sidewalls, means spaced longitudinally along said continuous elongated member for dividing said member into a plurality of fluid chambers, and coupling means having a pair of slots cooperating with said elongated member to confine contamination floating upon the surface of a body of water and facilitate its concentration when said continuous elongated member is in a loop configuration.
2. An isolation device in accordance with claim 1 in which said fluid chambers have a volume greater than the displacement of said isolation device in a body of water, and contain a quantity of fluid less dense than water sufficient to form a buoyancy portion and a curtain portion when placed in a body of water with said buoyancy portion being in communication with said curtain portion.
3. An isolation device in accordance with claim I in which said continuous elongated member has fastening means on at least one end.
4. An isolation device in accordance with claim 1 in which a plurality of surge vents, and a plurality of weights are provided adjacent said bottom portion of said flexible fluid distensible sidewalls of said continuous elongated member.
5. An isolation device in accordance with claim 1 in which a plurality of loop means are provided adjacent said upper portion of said flexible fluid distensible sidewalls of said continuous elongated member.
6. A buoyant barrier for contamination floating upon the surface of a body of water comprising a continuous indivisible elongated member having flexible fluid distensible sidewalls and a top portion and a bottom portion, closure means at opposite ends of said member for retaining fluid between said sidewalls, partition means spaced longitudinally along said continuous elongated member for dividing said member into a plurality of substantially uniform chambers, said chambers having a volume greater than the displacement of said barrier in a body of water, and containing a quantity of fluid less dense than water sufficient to form a buoyancy portion and a curtain portion when placed in a body of water with said sidewalls of said buoyancy portion being substantially distended and said sidewalls of said curtain portion being substantially undistended and in a substantially parallel relationship and with said buoyancy portion being in communication with said curtain portion whereby the configuration of said sidewalls is determined by water pressure.
7. A barrier in accordance with claim 6 in which the longitudinal dimensions of said chambers prior to placement in water are essentially equal to the vertica dimensions of said chambers.
8. A barrier in accordance with claim 6 in which said continuous elongated member has fastening means on at least one end.
9. A barrier in accordance with claim 6 in which a plurality of surge vents, and a plurality of weights are provided adjacent said bottom portion of said flexible fluid distensible sidewalls of said continuous elongated member.
10. A barrier in accordance with claim 6 in which a plurality of loop means are provided adjacent said upper portion of said flexible fluid distensible sidewalls of said continuous elongated member, said loop means including a cable extending continuously along said member, said cable being arranged in loops at spaced intervals along said cable.
ll. A barrier in accordance with claim 1 in which the longitudinal dimensions of said chambers prior to placement in water are essentially equal to the vertical dimensions of said chambers.
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|U.S. Classification||405/66, 405/70, 114/267|
|International Classification||E02B15/04, E02B15/06|
|Cooperative Classification||E02B15/08, E02B15/0864, E02B15/0821, E02B15/0814|
|European Classification||E02B15/08, E02B15/08D, E02B15/08J2, E02B15/08C|