Suggestions on how to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil leak are pouring in, as BP's runaway deepwater well creates an ever-widening environmental calamity.
The company has been taking suggestions from the public via email and a telephone hotline, though many have complained their submissions are being ignored. BP has received more than 20,000 ideas on how to stop the flow of oil or contain the spill, according to the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command, the responding to the disaster.
"They're clearly out of ideas, and there's a whole world of people willing to do this free of charge," said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive Inc., which has created an online network of experts to solve problems.
In addition to the tens of thousands of proposed fixes submitted to the company, sites such as PBS, Google and YouTube have also been receiving tips in their own crowdsourcing efforts.
Some of the submissions were silly: "Make Chuck Norris threaten the oil, that should stop it," one person wrote to Google. On Twitter, user Mark Zohar tweeted, "My suggestion -- get Uri Geller to bend oil pipe telepathically."
But many people are proposing genuine possible solutions.
One involves using hay to soak up the spilled oil. In a video viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube, two employees of a Florida company throw hay into bowls filled with water and crude oil. After a few minutes, the hay is pulled out and the water is left clean.
A charity called Matter of Trust aims to harness the absorbent power of hair. Its YouTube video asks people to make donations of human and animal hair, as well as feathers and nylons, to help clean up the oil slick.
Others have suggested ways to crimp or plug the leaky pipe. Frank Murphy from Wetaskiwin, Alta., sent us a diagram illustrating his technique, which involves dropping in a plug made of lead or copper.
Another idea, sent to us from Douglas Dezan of Sherbrooke, Que., would stop the flow by screwing a cap into the burst pipe. You can see his diagram here.
Rather than try to stop the oil, some have suggested containing it and directing its flow to the surface where it would be collected by tankers and barges. One proposes building giant tubes. "We have all seen these collapsible tubes/tunnels children crawl through or dogs run through in agility contests," wrote "Charles" on bpoilnews.com, a blog gathering submissions.
Texas inventor Steven Gregor Dvorak has designed a similar contraption called SQUID, which stands for Super Quick Undersea Incident Device, equipped with flexible plastic tubes to guide the oil to the surface.
Some suggest using various substances to solidify the oil and make the cleanup easier. On his blog, Toronto inventor William Nelson demonstrates how hot paraffin wax sprayed over oil forms solid chunks that can be skimmed out of the water.
Another popular idea is to use liquid nitrogen, a substance that causes rapid freezing. "Put liquid nitrogen in the oil well. It will freeze the flow and can withstand the temps at that depth," Matthew Choyce wrote to Google.
In a video submission to PBS, M.Adil compared the leaking oil to a hemorrhage and was inspired by techniques doctors use to stop an artery from bleeding. His method involves expanding powerful airbags inside the pipe to stop the flow of oil.
Pierre Mongeon sent us a video proposing a similar technique, which would use balloons.Watch video
Do you have ideas on how to fix the leak? Upload your video suggestions here or email your concept to email@example.com
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