June 10th, 2010
11:47 AM ET

Fix it: Bill Nye on oil disaster suggestions

CNN is featuring ideas from iReporters and experts alike on how to help fix the oil disaster on TV. We're taking a closer look at which ones might actually work.

Bill Nye, the infamous "Science Guy" talks to CNN's Kyra Phillips today about the latest slew of ideas coming from experts, celebrities, viewers and readers of his web site and why solving the problem may not be as easy as people think - because the pressure below the ocean is much higher than anything we would experience in real life.

iReport: Have an idea on how to fix the oil disaster? Send your ideas

You can check out all of the ideas submitted so far on the blog and if you’ve got a solution to share, you can upload your video to CNN iReport.

Send the government your ideas

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Michael Ostrowski

    Bill , there is a simple dead weight solution and maybe several, to get an appropriate dead weight on top of it , write me at m.ostrowski@tmcchicago.com

    June 10, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Leon Kellner

    I just heard James Carville and Mary Matalin "hope" that BP does not go bankrupt. The reason for bankruptcy is to avoid liability. A better idea than hoping is for Congress to pass a law tomorrow declaring that any liability from any oil spill is not dischargeable. By one signature, the President makes sure that all of BP's assets will be available to clean up the mess they made.

    June 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. B, Maxwell

    We should plug it up with BP executives.

    June 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kevin Zoulin

    I don't see why the oil couldn't be frozen in the pipe using liquid nitrogen, and then capped. It would be simple to send a small pipe into the leak and spray liquid nitrogen to temporarily stop it and then cap it while its frozen.

    June 10, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe Architect

    Can you stop a volcano? Can you stop a hurricane? The answer to both questions is: NO.

    This broken deepwater well is gushing out of control, much like a natural geyser or a volcano. It is not only spewing oil, it is spewing natural gas- in amounts much greater than the U.S. government, BP, or the media can pinpoint.

    This situation is very grim and severe. We don't need an intellectual, booksmart, talking head of a president sitting around nonchalantly discussing resolutions. We need a plan of action NOW. Unfornately, due to the U.S. government's lack of sound regulation of deepsea drilling operations, President Obama and the entire administration, along with all of us (We the People) are having to play catch up. It's like trying to solve a problem that we haven't yet adequately stated.

    For example, where was the U.S. governmental inspector on the day that the BP representative and the Transocean representative were arguing over how to proceed? If the inspector HAD been present, surely his/her good conscience would have red-tagged the rig, forced Transocean to halt all operations until the faulty BOP (Blowout Preventor) was fixed or replaced. That the BP rep said, not only "full-speed ahead," but also said, "let's speed up the process." (paraphrased from 60 Minute's news report that aired over a month ago).

    It is my limited understanding that this gusher cannot be capped as the force of the oil, gas and the ocean is too great to overcome. It's not like it's going to stop. If we plug the hole, where is all that force of pressure going to go? It's not going to stop just because we throw a bunch of heavy concrete into it. This is mother nature. The only thing that's going to stop it is when it runs dry or if we're able to decrease the pressure by successfully drilling a relief well.

    That's another question "we the people" need to ask the government. Why was the permit issued without the requirement of a relief well being drilled simultaneoulsy and other back-up materials close at hand. "Time" magazine had an excellent article on yahoo earlier today laying all of these facts out.

    BP's safety record is apparently not what it should have been. I guess that's understandable as it's the 4th largest company in the world (according to Wikidpedia).

    It seems like "all the king's horses and all the king's men just cannot put humpty dumpty back together again."

    Yet, I'm an eternal optimist, though a realist as well.

    Perhaps somebody- Pres. Obama, congress, or BP can assemble a team of expert scientists, engineers, architects, NAVY officers/workers, physicists, and deepsea drilling experts who will work round the clock until a design solution is attained. Maybe pay the winner of the design that works 500 million dollars- a reward to be paid by BP. Just a wild thought, thinking out loud here.

    Now is NOT the time for partisanship. If Sarah Palin has such a team already assembled, as she stated last night on Sean Hannity's FOX news program, then President Obama should by all means get them involved in the resolution of this problem ASAP.

    We've simply no time to waste.

    June 11, 2010 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael Ostrowski

    To Bill Nye,

    Just watched your video - 2600 ton dome weight ? b/c dia of dome much larger than pipe. 460 atm -150 atms equals 4650 psig... assuming pipe diameter of 8 inches, dead weight of 234,000 lbs, or 116 tons should do it. a ro-ro container filled with sand cement or iron ore should easily do it, so cut the pipe flush with the ocean floor, and drop it down or roll it along ocean floor from beach, perhaps under its own power on a wheeled skid.

    June 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Ostrowski

      delta p at the well head is 460 atmospheres minus 150 atmospheres of seawater pressure, or 4650 psi. That x the area of a 20 inch opening means a dead weight of 730 tons needed to stop the flow -- 4 ro ro containers filled with steel scrap or cement should do it.

      June 12, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael Ostrowski

    BP, media and Government reports on numbers and the effectiveness of the current top hat and suction to the surface are assuming that the flow rate from the well is independent from the presence of the top hat and suction to the surface vessel. The media and Government should ask this question
    could it be that the well is actually flowing more from the geological formation itself because of the suction ( i.e . reducing the static 150 atmospheres of hydrobaric backpressure at that ocean depth so that the 460 atmospheres of pressure fro the formation results in lower delta P,, in other words, more flow from the formation as a result of the suction device

    June 11, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DAVID

    35 YRS AGO I WAS A WELL HEAD TECH.. I WOULD BUILD OIL AND GAS WELLS IN THE GULF ON PLATFORMS. I KNOW SUBSEA WELLS MAY OFFER MORE DIFILICULTIES BECAUSE OF THEIR DEPT, BUT THE CONCEPT IS STILL THE SAME. I HAVE AN IDEAR ABOUT THIS BLOW OUT, BUT I NEED SOME INFORMATION ABOUT THIS WELL.
    1. I SAW A VIEDO ON HOW THE RISER SECTION CAN BE DISCONNECTED FROM THE WELL IF THE RIG HAD TO LEAVE INCASE OF BAD WEATHER IN THE GULF. IF WE WERE ABLE TO MOUNT SOMETHING ON THIS FLANGE, WOULD THIS PART BE ABLE TO STAY CONNECTED.
    2. WE WOULD TEST ALL OF THE CONECTIONS ONCE INSTALLED FOR ( WELL CONTROL) . WHAT IS THE PRESSURE RATING OF THE FLANGE THE CUT OFF RISER PIPE IS CONNECTED TO. ON THE WELLS I USE TO WORK ON THIS PIPE HAD NO PRESSURE CONTROL BECAUSE IT WAS ABOVE THE BOP. I WANT TO KNOW IF THIS IS THE SAME FOR A SUBSEA WELL, ALTHOUGH THAT FLANGE SEAMS TO HAVE SOME THICKNESS TO IT.
    3. LAST BUT NOT LEASE, HOW MUCH PRESSURE WAS BP EXPECTING ON THIS WELL? THE WAY YOU MAY HAVE TO LOOK AT THIS IS WHEN THIS WELL WAS COMPLETED THE CASING DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGHT WEIGHT IN IT TO HOLD THE PRESSURE BACK, NO MATER ANYTHING ABOUT PLUGS, WATER, MUD. WHEN IT BLEW EVERYTHING OUT THE ANNULIS OF THE CASSING ,IT WAS VENTING ABOVE THE WATER WITH NO BACK PRESSURE TO HOLD IT BACK. A WELL DRILLED TO 13,000 FT. MUST HAVE AT LEASE 12 TO 15 THOUSAND PSI. NOW IT IS BLOWING OUT UNDER THE WATER WITH 5,000 FT. OF HYDROSTATIC WATER PRESSURE ON IT. THE PRESSURE HAS TOBE MUCH LESS. MAYBE 7 TO 10 THOUSAND PSI. THE DEPTH IS HARD TO WORD WITH BUT THE HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE IS HELPING.

    June 11, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • DAVID

      THE DEPT IS HARD TO WORK WITH BUT THE HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE IS HELPING HOLD THE WELL PRESSURE BACK .

      June 11, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bruce bacon

    what maybe a "mother load" of oil could rock our economy. Drill-drill-drill-set up as many platforms as possible,
    extract the oil, store it, get the oil useful.

    June 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Edward Hayes

    Why don't they just find a way to use the natural calcium build up to plug the leak naturally.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. Edward Hayes

    The calcium deposits seem to be Earth equivalent to white blood cells.

    The engineers need to come up with a solution to utilize this natural occurring substance to help stop the leak.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. Edward Hayes

    Calcium, yeah, that is the white blood cell of the Earth.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Edward Hayes

    CNN tell them to plug that leak with Earth's own healing agent.

    Use the calcium deposits to help the Earth heal naturally.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Edward Hayes

    Thanks so much for taking my suggestion.

    I hope that helps.

    God Bless America.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. Lex Shuman

    Instead of throwing junk like golf balls and chewing gum wrappers into the well, it would make more sense to shoot very strong magnets onto the inside wall of the pipe until you get enough to slow the flow substantially. This would have to be done several feet down so that a cement plug could be put on top. Then pump layers of cement, or perhaps a large amount of fast setting epoxy to further seal the leak. The layers would have to be added slowly so the magnets do not become over loaded, and collapse. Hey, this makes more sense than golf balls.

    June 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
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