Monday, June 7, 2010

The Glory of Oil Drilling Technology

I mentioned recently that if anyone wanted to help out in the BP oil spill, he should come up with a technological innovation to obsolete oil drilling. That hasn't quite arrived, but the samples below are the next best thing.

Daniel Foster has written a piece on the amazing technology being used to combat the BP oil spill. It's so chock-full of glorious items I can't even decide what to excerpt. So, here are just two picked at random:
[T]he Deepwater Horizon floated on four massive stabilizing pontoons, which kept it stationary and level as waves washed beneath it. This allowed the rig to move anywhere it was needed, withstand 40-foot waves and 100-knot winds, and operate in water as deep as 10,000 feet.

Powered by two 9,775-hp, 7,000-kilowatt AC generators, and outfitted with awesome-sounding machinery like the “heave compensator,” “cascading shaker,” “hydraulic power choke,” and “iron roughneck,” it obliterated the previous world record — and its own nominal capacities — for offshore drill depth when it hit 35,055 feet in the Gulf.
And, for the cleanup effort,
Essentially powerful vacuums attached to centrifuges, Costner’s contraptions can reportedly remove oil from water at a rate of 200 gallons a minute with a level of 97 to 99 percent purity. Six of them are currently being tested by BP and the Army Corps of Engineers.
What Foster doesn't say much about (it's not really his purpose but is implied by the selections and the style) is just how magnificent are the heroes who designed and deployed these amazing devices. It's really a pity that the Nobel – actually intended for things like this – will never be given to any of the creators.

For anyone interested in how real life sometimes exceeds the bounds of the most romantic fiction, Foster's article is for you.

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