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Metallic Wool Ignition System for In Situ Burning of Oil Spills

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000245282D
Publication Date: 2016-Feb-25
Document File: 2 page(s) / 295K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

: In situ burning is one of the primary response options used for marine / estuarine / fresh water oil spill response. Fundamentally the process is quite simple. Oil slicks must be thick enough to burn. Once a thick oil slick is identified or made thick by booming or use of herding agents, an incendiary device is floated / dropped / placed into the thick oil. The incendiary device provides enough heat to produce and ignite a mixture of volatile compounds emanating from the oil in the air immediately above the slick. Current practice for ignition requires using a liquid accelerant that is ignited and somehow placed into the oil to initiate combustion. Aerial ignition using helicopters and fixed wing planes is desired for oil spill response because of the speed that they can move to a spill and move between individual slicks. Placing liquid accelerants that pose a fire / explosion hazard within manned aerial systems poses an inherent safety threat. One method that partially gets around the safety issue is to use the so-called "Helitorch." A "Helitorch" is a system used to start back fires for forest firefighting. The system consists of a reservoir for holding gelled gasoline, a system for dispensing the gelled gasoline as multiple packets, and a system for igniting the gelled gasoline before it leaves the Helitorch and drops to the oil slick. The heli torch is a package system that is slung below a helicopter – see Figure 1. Although the heli torch removes the liquid accelerant from inside the cabin of the helicopter, it adds the challenge of a slung load to helicopter operations. This introduces new safety and logistical issues to in situ burn operations. What is needed is an inherently safely ignition system that can be carried within the cabin of the aerial system – either helicopter or fixed wing.

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Metallic Wool Ignition System for In Situ Burning of Marine and Freshwater Oil Spills

In situ burning is one of the primary response options used for marine / estuarine / fresh water oil spill response.  Fundamentally the process is quite simple.  Oil slicks must be thick enough to burn.  Once a thick oil slick is identified or made thick by booming or use of herding agents, an incendiary device is floated / dropped / placed into the thick oil.  The incendiary device provides enough heat to produce and ignite a mixture of volatile compounds emanating from the oil in the air immediately above the slick.

Current practice for ignition requires using a liquid accelerant that is ignited and somehow placed into the oil to initiate combustion.  Aerial ignition using helicopters and fixed wing planes is desired for oil spill response because of the speed that they can move to a spill and move between individual slicks.

Placing liquid accelerants that pose a fire / explosion hazard within manned aerial systems poses an inherent safety threat.  One method that partially gets around the safety issue is to use the so-called “Helitorch.”  A “Helitorch” is a system used to start back fires for forest firefighting.  The system consists of a reservoir for holding gelled gasoline, a system for dispensing the gelled gasoline as multiple packets, and a system for igniting the gelled gasoline before it leaves the Helitorch and drops to the oil slick.  The heli torch is a package system that is slung below a helicopter – see Figure 1. 

Although the heli torch removes the liquid accelerant from inside the cabin of the helicopter, it adds the challenge of a slung load to helicopter operations.  This introduces new safety and logistical issues to in situ burn operations.

What is needed is an inherently safely ignition system that can be carried within the cabin of the aerial system – either helicopter or fixed wing.

Figure 1.  Helicopter equipped with a Helitorch.

Concept Description

It is well known that metallic wool (metal fabricated into fine metallic threads) will readily ignite and burn at high temperature when contacted by an electric current, e.g., when the metallic wool is touched by a 9 V battery.  Metallic wool can be made of mat...