Gerry Matherne recently built a helicopter from “a bit of this and a piece of that,” which made him a minor star on YouTube when the engine died in midair and he didn’t. He somehow landed the crippled craft beside power lines.
“I’m always inventing something,” said the gruff 61-year-old captain of an oil supertanker. “When I was a boy, a wristwatch was never safe in my hands. I’d dismantle anything to see how it ran.”
So when Matherne learned of the runaway BP oil leak, he considered it a personal challenge. He drove to a hardware store, bought some window screens and PVC pipe, and began to tinker.
The result is the first device that, according to BP engineers and Coast Guard officials, promises a faster, cheaper and more efficient way to remove spilled oil than traditional skimmers in the Gulf of Mexico.
Gerry Matherne’s oil cleanup invention is called the Heavy Oil Recovery Device (HORD) and is incredibly simple.
It uses a six foot long bag made of synthetic mesh (like the kind used in patio furniture). The bag is towed slowly inside of a large metal frame, like dragging a kitchen garbage can with a plastic bag insert around the room.
The bag captures the oil and allows the water to flow right through. Once the bag is full of oil (about two tons), it is tied closed and pulled up onto the deck and a new cleanup bag is loaded in the cage. Changing the bag takes about 45 seconds.
There’s a video after the jump.
Photo by marinephotobank.