The latest addition to ELASTEC’S arsenal of oil spill response equipment is the 1.5 m BoomVane™, designed to quickly deploy heavier oil boom in coastal and open waters in advancing sweeping and skimming applications - with only one towing vessel.
Shon Mosier, ELASTEC sales manager explains the advantage of the new 1.5 m BoomVane. “When oil is spilled in open water, it tends to spread, and then it gets thinner making the oil more difficult to recover. To thicken the oil for removal, it must be swept, much like sweeping dirt into a pile with a broom. In oil spill response jargon, we sweep (concentrate) the oil traditionally with two boats towing a boom between them to gather the oil for skimming.”
This traditional oil sweeping method is not only expensive but also difficult to manoeuvre the boats and the boom in tandem. Additional limitations involve the sweep arm. The arm extends from the side of the boat to hold the boom, which limits the sweep swath to the length of the arm.
The 1.5 m BoomVane solves these problems. It can quickly deploy boom, eliminating the need for a second towing vessel - and the manpower needed to crew it. No longer limited by the length of a sweep arm, wider boom swaths can be configured with the unharnessed power of the BoomVane to tow the boom into position. BoomVane also solidly holds the swath configuration in place, manoeuvred by the boat’s captain.
To prove its performance, the new 1.5 m BoomVane model was tested off the shore of Brest, on France’s Atlantic coast, and it ‘exceeded expectations’, said Jeff Cantrell, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of ELASTEC, based in Carmi, Illinois, USA.
An 80 m French Navy (Marine Nationale) vessel deployed the 1.5 m BoomVane connected to 160 m of what Cantrell called a ‘monster’ boom, creating a starboard swath estimated at 25 m in width.
The test was arranged by Stewart Ellis, ELASTEC’S vice president of sales, and the company’s dealer in France, Pierre Briallart of Cleansails, at the request of the French Navy. Several other organisations witnessed the event, including representatives of the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency and major French and Italian energy firms.
“We were anxious to learn how the swath width would vary with different lengths of boom behind the 1.5 m BoomVane,” said Cantrell. “And we wanted to know how much force and towing capacity it had.”
The test was conducted under “very good conditions,” he said - seas of two to three feet, light winds of 5 to 15 knots and overcast skies. The vessel carried 160 meters of boom, with inflation chambers and skirt each measuring about a meter. Ideally, a smaller boom would have been used for the test, Cantrell said, but this was the smallest available at the time.
“Approximately 60 m of boom were initially deployed from the stern, with a mooring line of 80 to 85 m deployed from the anchor winch far forward, near the bow. The BoomVane was deployed off the starboard side and was quickly landed at the beginning point of the boom,” Cantrell said. “We allowed the BoomVane to play out and let out some mooring line in order to maximise our swath width,” he added.
Additional boom was deployed and the swath reached a width of about 25 m with 80 to 100 m of boom in the water. “I felt that was as much swath as we could get,” said Cantrell. But the French Navy wanted to deploy all 160 m of boom to see how the BoomVane would handle it, and he agreed.
“Even with the entire length of boom in tow, the BoomVane performed admirably. And Ellis thought the swath may have widened even further,” Cantrell said. Cantrell was surprised that the BoomVane was able to obtain the 25 m swath width, given the size of the boom being used. “The 1.5 m BoomVane exceeded our expectations,” Cantrell added. “Everyone was very pleased.”
Cantrell took the opportunity to share a bit of BoomVane manoeuvres with the vessel’s captain and the day’s witnesses. “I went to the wheelhouse and under my direction, we made port and starboard turns with the BoomVane (and 160 m of boom) deployed off the starboard side,” he said. “Everybody understood that they could make a port turn with the BoomVane on the outside of the turn, but they didn’t think they could make a starboard turn. I explained how to do it, and the captain handled it very well.”
The test in France, although successful, also identified some changes that could improve the performance of the device—and the other versions of the BoomVane, as well. Those improvements were made, including a determination of the optimal size of boom and skirt to partner with the 1.5 m version. And Cantrell believes a 35 m swath is possible.
The third of four models, the new 1.5 m BoomVane is faster, greener and more economical than traditional boom towing methods. The first two BoomVane models, the .5 m and 1 m, work well in fast, shallow rivers. The powerful 2 m BoomVane is for towing larger boom in heavier seas.
Manufactured by ELASTEC, each BoomVane model operates with the simple technology of combining the science of sailing with the art of flying a kite – in the water. The popularity of the ELASTEC BoomVane line is soaring. Oil spill responders, coast guards and emergency response organisations are realizing the financial payback in only one or two deployments.
Also ready to roll is another innovative BoomVane tool for dispersant application, the ELASTEC Coastal BoomVane Spray system – another story in the environmental equipment manufacturer’s mission to keep our world clean.
Adapted from a press release by David Bizley