Oil Spill Clean-Up Concept Uses Recycled Plastic Bottles

PET oil barrier image

Migrated Image / YankoDesign.com

We're not so sure this concept will make it to any final rounds for the X Prize Foundation's contest for best oil spill clean up ideas, but it isn't the worst idea. Designers Min A Namgung and Jangwoon Kim reason that we should fight oil with oil -- specifically, linking up recycled PET plastic bottles to contain oil from the Gulf disaster.

Using rubber caps molded to fit used plastic water bottles, a chain is formed to harness oil spreading across the surface of the sea. From Yanko Design:

"A moment of thought goes out to the Oil Fence here, which is made from recycled PET plastic bottles, fitted with special rubber caps on both ends. The logic is to reuse the trashed bottles for a greater good like containing spills without adding a burden to the environment. The color scheme of orange and yellow, sure makes it look bright and cheery against the black slick of oil!"
oil fence concept image

Problem: How much oil would be used to make those end caps, just to be able to screw a chain of plastic bottles together?

(By the way, according to the Pacific Institute, the plastic water bottles consumed in America in 2006 required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation.)

Problem: How does a rubber cap that's been "pushed" on to the bottom of a plastic bottle hold together while afloat in the ocean?

oil fence concept image

Again, not the worst idea we heard -- trying to round up the plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and use it to "absorb" the oil in the gulf probably takes that prize -- but it isn't exactly brilliant.

Meanwhile, some far more bright ideas are being submitted to the X Prize Foundation, whose competition launched on August 1st.

This X CHALLENGE...culminates in the summer of 2011, with head-to-head competitive demonstrations taking place at the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (OHMSETT) in Leonardo, New Jersey, USA.
A $1 Million Prize will be awarded to the team that demonstrates the ability to recover oil on the sea surface at the highest oil recovery rate (ORR) and the highest Recovery Efficiency (RE).