Our New Suggestion
Our new technology is the Expanding Inner Hull, because it acts as an extra hull on the inside of a vessel transporting oil. It's main purpose is to prevent the oil from leaking into a body of water if the vessel is punctured. Without the Expanding Inner Hull, or with just a normal single layer hull, which most ships have today, oil spills can occur much easier. The Expanding Inner Hull would be an extra hull so if the outside hull is torn, it will make it hard for the oil to escape. It acts as a shield separating the oil from the water.
The Expanding Inner Hull would be made of a flexible material that absorbs some of the oil so it cannot leak into the water. We were thinking of a material such as bubble gum because it is already used to absorb spilt oil. It can expand easily when the force of the oil that's trying to escape hits it. The bubble gum that is used will be strong and flexible enough so when the ship is scraped, the bubble gum will not be punctured. Instead, it will take the shape of the object that hit the vessel. Also, the bubble gum liner would be made a few inches thick so it would have plenty of room to expand.
Usually, when the outer hull is scraped, the oil would leak. But with the Expanding Inner Hull, the oil cannot escape. The bubble gum will move with the oil that is trying to escape, forming a bubble.
The Significance of Our Improvement
Unlike a lot of other technologies for oil spill clean up, our proposed technology, the Expanding Inner Hull actually helps prevent an oil spill from occurring. It's ability to prevent oil spills from happening could be more effective than other significant technologies.
The Expanding Inner Hull could be used on a lot of ships with oil, so oils spills can be prevented. Not only that, but it would be very cheap. Other single layer hulls or double layer hulls are made out of steel which is very expensive. If bubble gum was used, people and companies could save a lot of money. The idea that bubble gum is being used to prevent oil spills may sound a little strange to some people, but it could maybe even be more effective than other materials, such as steel. If our improvement is tried out, maybe it could become an important factor in preventing oil spills.
Opinions of Companies
We contacted many companies asking them for their opinion about the Expanding Inner Hull. However, nobody has e-mailed us back. We are still waiting for companies to reply back. These are just some of the many companies that we contacted:
and many more
We also contacted the head quarters of the Shell Gas Company and they replied back. They said that they liked our idea and though it would be possible for a bubble gum company to produce the Expanding Inner Hull. Under "A Scientist's Opinion," (which follows this), is a copy of a letter that we sent to bubble gum companies, as well as scientists.
A Scientist's Opinion
We contacted many scientists and we are still waiting for a reply. Our technical adviser, Derek Burrill, commented that our idea was great and could be used someday.
Here is an example one of many letters that we sent to scientists, asking for thier opinion:
I am part of a group that is participating in the Internet Science and Technology Fair, (ISTF). We have to research oil spills and how they are cleaned up so we can put the information onto a webpage. We proposed a new type of technology that can be used to prevent oil spills. Our proposed improvement is called the Expanding Inner Hull. It is made of bubble gum and goes on the inside of every vessel that transports oil across a body of water. We chose bubble gum because of it's flexibility, it can't break very easily. When a vessel is punctured, whatever tore it couldn't tear through the bubble gum because the bubble gum would take shape of the object. If there was too much pressure from the oil on the inside, the bubble gum could form a bubble outside of the ship. The bubble gum would be strong enough so nothing else can tear it. For more information you can go to our website. We need an opinion of a scientist and a company who could produce the Expanding Inner Hull, so we were hoping you could e-mail us back with your opinions. Please e-mail me as soon as possible. Thank your for all of your time.
The following was added on March 4, 1999
John Whalan(of Spill Control Systems), who travels the world and conducts Spill Response Classes, recently responded to my request for a scientist's opinion and I feel that if would be terribly mean of me not to include his letter on our wesite. This man took time out of his busy schedule and kindly looked, read, and understood our website. In a previous letter Mr. Whalan commented on our suggestion for an inner hull made out of bubble gum. He thought it was a good idea, but said he would get back to us because he had just returned from a trip. The following is his most recent letter to me.
Hi, back again. I have been away conducting Spill Response Classes around Australia. I like your site but I have some suggestions which may improve your understanding of our industry. Most of the public associates oil spills with our oceans. However most of our spills occur(every day) on land and in our rivers. These spills end up polluting our inland waters and eventually end up in our oceans. Most ocean spills end up dispersing and are eaten up by microseisms. The media panics the public and we see the worst. I can provide you more detailed information on this subject which may add a new dimension to your website and give it a more balanced profile.
I replied back and I asked Mr. Whalan to give me his more detailed advice even though we had a deadline to meet, but I would be interested in Mr. Whalan's advice for my own benefit so I could learn from it and share it with my teammates.
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