Analysis and Estimation of Underwater Spill Accident

Xiangyu Wang, Purdue University


On April 20th 2010, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) drilling rig blew out, caught fire and eventually sank. In addition to the tragic loss human life, we as a society were left with a tremendous disaster to manage. The impact of an oil spill can have dire consequences on the environment, wildlife, humans and businesses. Understanding the severity of an oil spill in a quick, efficient, accurate and reliable manner may reduce the impact of the spill and save billions of dollars. Our study on oil spill volume estimation employs the state of the art technology called Image Correlation Velocimetry (ICV), which is already closely related to the well known Particle Image Velocimetry(PIV) to track the coherent structures at the oil-water interface of the oil jet to determine its speed. From the interface speed of the jet, the average speed of the jet had to be estimated. This approach can also be applied to spills in other high-risk environments where safety and cost depend upon accurately understanding the flow rate of hazardous material spills. This issue will certainly be of extreme future importance to society because our thirst for cheap oil will certainly drive us back to deepwater oil operations. Quickly evaluating the flow rate of oil during disasters like DHW will be a central issue in future disasters primarily for two reasons: (1) effectively directing the response requires knowing where the oil will surface and which shores it wash up on and (2) determining which technologies can be applied effectively to seal a blown out well depends strongly on the flow rate out of the well. This work presents the theoretical explanation of PIV and ICV technology and how it could be applied in this research.




Wereley, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Engineering|Mechanical engineering|Environmental engineering

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