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The coming age of controlled ISB

05th April 2013

Successful in situ burning (ISB) techniques such as fire boom are prompting industry regulators and the general public to finally judge it as a full proven, safe, and effective oil spill response option

The coming age of controlled ISB
Successful in situ burning (ISB) techniques such as fire boom are prompting industry regulators and the general public to finally judge it as a full proven, safe, and effective oil spill response option

Fire boom first appealed to the public in 2010 during the Deepwater Horizon(DWH)oil spill. Some 411 safe and effective controlled burns were conducted, removing an estimated 29,700-41,800 tonnes of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. .

A post-DWH response report showed that the three main types of fire boom: water-cooled, stainless float, and ceramic – all lasted well beyond their expected service life.

“I found PyroBoom much easier to work with than the boom with the water-cooled jacket,” says Ronald Dufrene Sr, the captain and owner of the vessel involved  in the in situ burning operation used in the DWH incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. nAll we need to do is to ‘throw’ the boom into water and it works without any ancillary equipment,” he adds.

“Water cooled fire boom needs two water pumps. These require more space when operating and noise from the pumps also hindered our communications. The most important aspect is that the water-cooled jacket boom was in one piece so we weren’t able to repair the burned out parts in site, we had to cinch the boom which made it shorter every time. It was a very time consuming and inefficient process,” Dufrene says.

PyroBoom from Applied Fabric Technologies (AFTI) is among the very first oil spill barriers evaluated by a variety of organisations dating back to 1981. Since then, it has been tested several times and in different ways by various companies and government agencies. It successfully contained both burning and non-burning oil through an entire series of ASTM F2151 evaluations and has demonstrated the ability to contain burning oil for as much as 24 hours.

On May 13 2010, BP ordered a ”burn kit ” of 200 feet of PyroBoom and 300 ft of GlobeBoom since the 200 ft of Pyroboom was the only amount available at the time. After several successful burns, BP undertook to acquire an additional 2,800 ft of PyroBoom from an earlier AFTI customer, Algerian Marine Oil Port Terminals (STH Spa), and to place a new order for 10,000 ft with AFTI. The record of the longest burning time in the DWH incident was 11h 45m. After that, it was continued to be used in further ISB operations. One PyroBoom had 10-12 burns in the first 6 days of operations and each burn lasted for several hours.

PyroBoom unitizes a unique blend of refractory and metallic materials in a woven fabric sealed with a silicone coating. The result is a floating barrier that boasts strength and durability, even when exposed to temperatures as high as (1315 °C) for extended periods. It is also particularly suited for use in the Arctic.

PyroBoom maintenance is rather simple. The refractory materials that are burned beyond continued service are easily and economically replaced by hand-tools in situ, so that the balance of the PyroBoom parts can be used time and time again.

In the near future, remote-controlled ISB surfaces as the next generation of oil spill response solutions. This method uses remotely controlled boats to continuously tow fire containment booms. The boats can be operated from a command vessel or aircraft.

If successful, this technology will eliminate personnel risks by removing the human element and creating a safer operation. By controlling the tow vessels remotely, operators can also synchronize the vessels’ motions, thereby allowing them to collect, burn, and remove additional oil. PyroBoom has vowed not to miss this opportunity and is taking the challenge of becoming a next generation solution.


This article was written by Linda Wang, area sales manager of Oil Spill Response, DESMI Pumping Technology (Suzhou) Co. Ltd.

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