Title:
Fluid flow control boom
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Boom or barrier systems adapted to prevent unwanted material located in a fluid body from passing from one side of the barrier to the other side of the barrier are disclosed. Methods of operating the boom system are also disclosed. The boom system may float in a body of fluid, such as a river, to protect one portion of the fluid body from unwanted material, such as debris, while at the same time allowing fluid to flow underneath the boom to the protected portion of the fluid body. In a preferred embodiment, the boom system may include a control side having a lower air supply and an upper water supply. The lower air supply may provide a rising curtain of air along the control side of the boom. The upper water supply may provide jets of water directed tangentially to the control side near the fluid body surface. Debris that approaches the control side of the boom may be lifted towards the surface by the rising curtain of air, and as it nears the surface, swept longitudinally along the control surface by the jets of water near the boom water line.



Inventors:
Gould, William (Wantage, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/404436
Publication Date:
10/07/2004
Filing Date:
04/02/2003
Assignee:
GOULD WILLIAM
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
210/923, 405/64, 441/65
International Classes:
E02B1/00; E02B15/04; E02B15/06; (IPC1-7): E02B15/04; B63B1/00; B63B35/00
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Primary Examiner:
LEE, JONG SUK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KELLEY DRYE & WARREN LLP (Parsippany, NJ, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A boom adapted to float in a fluid body, said boom comprising: a control side extending in a longitudinal direction of the boom; a first fluid supply line extending in the longitudinal direction of the boom; a first fluid port disposed along the control side and communicating with the first fluid supply line; a second fluid supply line extending in the longitudinal direction of the boom; and a second fluid port spaced from the first fluid port along the control side, said second fluid port communicating with the second fluid supply line.

2. The boom according to claim 1, wherein the first fluid port is spaced vertically above the second fluid port.

3. The boom according to claim 2, wherein the first fluid supply line is adapted to supply a liquid, and the second fluid supply line is adapted to supply a gas.

4. The boom according to claim 3, further comprising a ballast member disposed in a lower portion of the boom.

5. The boom according to claim 4, further comprising a protective outer sheathing.

6. The boom according to claim 5, further comprising a buoyant interior member.

7. The boom according to claim 6, further comprising at least one connector adapted to connect the boom to a second boom.

8. The boom according to claim 2, wherein a plurality of first fluid ports are disposed along the control side. The boom according to claim 2, wherein a plurality of second fluid ports are disposed along the control side. The boom according to claim 1, wherein the first fluid supply line is adapted to supply water.

9. The boom according to claim 10, wherein the second supply line is adapted to supply air.

10. The boom according to claim 1, wherein the second supply line is adapted to supply a gas.

11. The boom according to claim 1, further comprising a ballast member disposed in a lower portion of the boom.

12. The boom according to claim 1, further comprising a protective outer sheathing.

13. The boom according to claim 1, further comprising a buoyant interior member.

14. The boom according to claim 1, further comprising at least one connector adapted to connect the boom to a second boom.

15. The boom according to claim 1, wherein said first port is oriented to encourage the flow of fluid in substantially the longitudinal direction along the control side.

16. The boom according to claim 1, wherein said second port is oriented to encourage the flow of fluid in substantially the vertical direction along the control side.

17. The boom according to claim 1, wherein orientation of the first port relative to the control side is adjustable.

18. The boom according to claim 1, wherein orientation of the second port relative to the control side is adjustable.

19. The boom according to claim 1, wherein said control side is substantially planar.

20. The boom according to claim 1, further comprising a second control side.

21. The boom according to claim 1, wherein the width of said boom is greater at an upper portion than at a lower portion.

22. A boom system adapted to float in a fluid body, said boom system comprising: a control side extending in a longitudinal direction of the boom system; a first fluid supply line extending in the longitudinal direction of the boom system; a plurality of fluid ports disposed along the control side and communicating with the first fluid supply line; a second fluid supply line extending in the longitudinal direction of the boom system; a plurality of second fluid ports spaced vertically below the plurality of first fluid ports along the control side, said second fluid ports communicating with the second fluid supply line; protective outer sheathing defining individual booms in the boom system; means for connecting individual booms together in the boom system; and flexible sheathing disposed at gaps between individual booms in the boom system.

23. The boom system of claim 24, further comprising an upper deck adapted to accommodate the travel of a person.

24. The boom according to claim 24, wherein the first fluid supply line is adapted to supply a liquid, and the second fluid supply line is adapted to supply a gas.

25. The boom according to claim 24, further comprising a ballast member disposed in a lower portion of the boom.

26. The boom according to claim 24, further comprising a buoyant interior member.

27. The boom according to claim 24, wherein the plurality of first ports are oriented to encourage the flow of fluid in substantially the longitudinal direction along the control side.

28. The boom according to claim 24, wherein the plurality of second ports are oriented to encourage the flow of fluid in substantially the vertical direction along the control side.

29. The boom according to claim 24, wherein orientation of at least one of the plurality of the first ports is adjustable relative to the control side.

30. The boom according to claim 24, wherein orientation of at least one of the plurality of the second ports is adjustable relative to the control side.

31. The boom according to claim 24, wherein said control side is substantially planar.

32. The boom according to claim 24, further comprising a second control side.

33. The boom according to claim 24, wherein the width of said boom is greater at an upper portion than at a lower portion.

34. A method of deterring the flow of material past the control side of a boom system disposed in a fluid body, said method comprising the steps of: supplying gas along a lower portion of said control side; and supplying liquid along an upper portion of said control side, wherein the gas supply encourages the rise of the material in the fluid body and the liquid supply encourages the movement of the material in the fluid body in a direction substantially tangential to the control side.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present invention relates to, and is entitled to the benefit of the earlier filing date and priority of United States Provisional Patent Application Serial No. ______ filed Apr. 4, 2002.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to a barrier adapted to be placed in a fluid body to prevent unwanted material in the fluid body from passing from one side of the barrier to the other side of the barrier while allowing fluid from the fluid body to flow from one side of the barrier to the other.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Industrial and power plants must routinely intake water from large bodies, such as rivers, lakes, and oceans, for plant operations, such as cooling. The water intakes used by these plants must be protected from taking in unwanted material, such as natural and manmade debris. Examples of natural debris include logs, sticks, waterborne plants, and other biomass, such as algae. Examples of manmade debris are too numerous to list, but include bottles, bags, construction waste, etc.

[0004] A trend is appearing in the growth and abundance of aquatic biomasses, in particular. As part of the national study (ECOHAB) investigating the increased frequency and abundance of Harmful Algae Blooms, warmer water temperatures combined with elevated nutrient discharges into the nation's waters are considered a prime suspect as the cause of the more prolific blooms. These factors are also viewed as a cause of more abundant aquatic biomasses. Conventional means used to provide intake protection for the water needs of industrial and power plants include rotating screens, passive booms, geotextiles and intake extensions into deep water. These conventional water intake protection means may not be keeping up with the challenge in all respects, however.

[0005] For example, one known system for preventing these unwanted materials from entering a water intake requires placement of a rotating screen between the water intake and the fluid body from which water is drawn. The rotating screen is an endless loop of screening material positioned so that a portion of it lies below the water surface in front of the water intake and a portion of it lies above the water surface. As water flows through the screen towards the water intake, unwanted material in the water is stopped by the screen. The low pressure condition on the water intake side of the screen tends to hold the unwanted material against the screen. As the unwanted material is so held, the screen rotates so that the unwanted material is carried up out of the water to a washing station. High pressure water is applied to the back of the screen at the washing station to dislodge the unwanted material from the screen. The unwanted material may then be collected and disposed of. The process of maintaining the screen so that it rotates, washing it constantly, and collecting and disposing of unwanted material, can add significantly to the cost of taking water into a plant.

[0006] In some instances, screens can even clog and become solid barriers when operated in heavy debris conditions. As a screen clogs, the increasing pressure differentials on the two sides of the screen may make cleaning the screen more difficult, as the greater differentials cause matter to be packed more tightly into the screen.

[0007] A second system for preventing unwanted materials from entering a water intake requires placement of a passive boom or barrier between the water intake and the fluid body from which water is drawn. The passive boom may float in the water so that a portion of it extends downward into the fluid body. Water intake may be drawn from under the floating boom. The passive boom may initially prevent unwanted material near the surface of the fluid body from passing into a protected portion of the fluid body. During water intake operations, the low pressure condition on the back side of the passive boom, which is created by the water intake, tends to draw the unwanted material up against the boom. As the unwanted material accumulates at the boom it may be forced downward and eventually be sucked under the passive boom into the water intake. Accordingly, even when passive booms are used for water intake protection, they may only be a first line of defense, requiring a second line of defense, such as a rotating screen.

[0008] Still another system for protecting water intakes is an intake extension, which can be very expensive, and may still be prone to debris and spill ingestion, although to a lesser extent. Intake extensions can also create high maintenance costs and commitment due to a need for periodic dredging to keep the extension end open.

[0009] The failure of a system to prevent unwanted material from entering a plant's water intake can be catastrophic and costly. The costs attributed to a shutdown can range to as much as $250,000 to $400,000 per day according to recent reports. This cost can grow when remediation, repair, cleaning and lost revenue for the effected businesses are added in. In the case of a nuclear power plant shutdown, such as occurred at the Public Service Electric and Gas (N.J.) Oyster Creek Facility as a result of severe river grass bloom, additional costs may arise from the need for regulatory compliance, including the cost of fines and data generation. In the example of the Al Liyyah power plant in Sharjah, U.A.E. (July 1997, fuel spill) direct economic losses related to the shutdown were estimated at more than ten million U. S. dollars.

[0010] In view of the foregoing challenges, a system and method of protecting a water intake or portion of a fluid body are needed. Therefore it may be an advantage of some, but not necessarily all, embodiments of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method for controlling the flow of fluid and unwanted material in the fluid at or near a water intake or exhaust. It may be yet another advantage of some embodiments of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method for containing unwanted material in a portion of a fluid body. It may be still yet another advantage of some embodiments of the present invention to deter unwanted material from entering a protected portion of a fluid body while allowing some fluid to be drawn from that body.

[0011] Additional advantages of various embodiments of the invention may be set forth, in part, in the description that follows and, in part, will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art from the description and/or from the practice of the invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0012] Responsive to the foregoing challenges, Applicant has developed an innovative boom adapted to float in a fluid body, said boom comprising: a control side extending in a longitudinal direction of the boom; a first fluid supply line extending in the longitudinal direction of the boom; a first fluid port disposed along the control side and communicating with the first fluid supply line; a second fluid supply line extending in the longitudinal direction of the boom; and a second fluid port spaced from the first fluid port along the control side, said second fluid port communicating with the second fluid supply line.

[0013] Applicant has further developed an innovative boom system adapted to float in a fluid body, said boom system comprising: a control side extending in a longitudinal direction of the boom system; a first fluid supply line extending in. the longitudinal direction of the boom system; a plurality of fluid ports disposed along the control side and communicating with the first fluid supply line; a second fluid supply line extending in the longitudinal direction of the boom system; a plurality of second fluid ports spaced vertically below the plurality of first fluid ports along the control side, said second fluid ports communicating with the second fluid supply line; protective outer sheathing defining individual booms in the boom system; means for connecting individual booms together in the boom system; and flexible sheathing disposed at gaps between individual booms in the boom system.

[0014] Applicant has still further developed an innovative method of deterring the flow of material past the control side of a boom system disposed in a fluid body, said method comprising the steps of: supplying gas along a lower portion of said control side; and supplying liquid along an upper portion of said control side, wherein the gas supply encourages the rise of the material in the fluid body and the liquid supply encourages the movement of the material in the fluid body in a direction substantially tangential to the control side.

[0015] It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only, and are not restrictive of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] In order to assist the understanding of this invention, reference will now be made to the appended drawings, in which like reference characters refer to like elements.

[0017] FIG. 1 is a cut-away pictorial view of a first boom structure embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a cut-away pictorial view of a second boom structure embodiment of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 3 is an end view of a third boom structure embodiment of the present invention that includes an upper deck surface.

[0020] FIG. 4 is a side view of a fourth boom structure embodiment of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 5 is a side view showing the connection of two boom structures constructed in accordance with the fourth embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

[0022] Reference will now be made in detail to a first embodiment of the present invention, an example of which is illustrated in the accompanying drawings. With reference to FIG. 1, a boom system 10 is shown in a pictorial cross-section. The boom system 10 may include one or more booms 100. Each boom 100 may include an upper portion 120, a control side 110, and a non-control side 112. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the upper portion 120 and the two sides 110 and 112 may define an inverted triangular shape when viewed end on.

[0023] The outer surface of the boom 100 may be defined by a protective outer sheathing 140. In preferred embodiments, the protective outer sheathing 140 may be made of 316 alloy stainless steel, corrosion resistant anti-fouling coated steel, marine grade 5052 aluminum, or other material that can maintain structural integrity when submerged in a fluid body, such as a river, lake, or ocean, over a prolonged period of time. The protective outer sheathing 140 may be constructed of one or more individual pieces of material connected together. Preferably, the protective outer sheathing may be welded so as to be substantially air-tight, and thus, more resistant to ambient conditions.

[0024] The protective outer sheathing 140 may enclose a ballast member 130 located in the lower portion of the boom 100. The ballast member 130 may comprise organic material, or any other material, of sufficient weight to cause the lower portion of the boom 100 to hang down in the fluid body in which the boom is to be suspended. The weight of the ballast member 130 may be selected so that the boom 100 maintains a waterline 102 that is approximately at the same level as upper fluid ports 162. Preferably, the water line 102 is maintained so that the upper fluid ports 162 are at the water line, or slightly submerged below the water line.

[0025] The protective outer sheathing 140 may also enclose a buoyant interior member 150. The buoyant interior member 150 may comprise sealed closed cell foam or expanded urethane foam. Alternatively, the buoyant interior member 150 may be replaced by an air space. If an air space is used in place of the buoyant interior member, it may be particularly desirable to seal the boom 100 from the ambient conditions, so that the interior of the boom does not flood and cause the boom to sink over time.

[0026] An upper fluid supply line 160 may pass through each boom 100 in the boom system 10. Although the upper fluid supply line 160 is shown to be provided in the interior of the boom 100, it is appreciated that it could be provided along the outside of control side 110 in an alternative embodiment. The upper fluid supply line 160 may be comprised of flexible or rigid tubing. Preferred examples of tubing that may be used include alloy steel, aluminum or plastic/vinyl tubing. If rigid tubing is used, it is preferable that flexible sections of tubing 164 be used to span the gaps 200 between the individual booms 100 in the boom system 10. These flexible sections of tubing 164 may permit the booms 100 to move relative to each other without stressing or breaking the upper fluid supply line 160 extending throughout the boom system 10, thereby making the overall boom system flexible. The flexible sections 164 may comprise complete lengths of flexible tubing extending across the entire gap 200 between the individual booms 100, or one or more short flexible connectors that connect the remainder of the tubing that makes up the upper fluid supply line 160.

[0027] One or more upper fluid ports 162 may be located along the outer surface of the control side 110. The upper fluid ports 162 may be arranged at periodic intervals along the longitudinal direction of the booms 100. Two upper fluid ports 162 are shown per boom 100 in FIG. 1, however it is appreciated that more or fewer upper fluid ports can be provided without departing from the intended scope of the present invention. The upper fluid ports may be fixed, or pivoted through a range of motion 163 in an alternative embodiment. If the upper fluid ports 162 are capable of being pivoted, this may enable the port outlets to be directed toward the water line 102 should there be a significant gap between the water line and the upper fluid ports. Each upper fluid port 162 may communicate with the upper fluid supply line 160 so that fluid can flow from the upper fluid supply line to the upper fluid ports.

[0028] A first end 168 of the upper fluid supply line 160 may be connected to a first fluid pump (not shown). The fluid pump may be adapted to provide the upper fluid supply line 160 with fluid, such as water. Fluid (preferably water drawn from the fluid body) may be supplied to the upper fluid ports 162 from the upper fluid supply line 160. The fluid is preferably provided at a pressure sufficient to produce “jets” 166 of fluid exiting each of the upper fluid ports. The jets 166 may encourage material, such as debris, that approaches the control side 110, to flow tangentially along the outer surface of the boom system 10.

[0029] A lower fluid supply line 180 may extend longitudinally along a lower portion of each boom 100 in the boom system 10. The lower fluid supply line 180 is shown to be attached to the outside of the control side 110, however, it is appreciated that in an alternative embodiment the lower fluid supply line could be provided in the interior of the boom 100 or integrated into the protective outer sheathing 140. The lower fluid supply line 180 may be comprised of flexible or rigid tubing. Preferred examples of tubing that may be used include alloy steel, aluminum or plastic/vinyl tubing. If rigid tubing is used, it is preferable that flexible sections of tubing 184 be used to span the gaps 200 between the individual booms 100 in the boom system 10. These flexible sections of tubing 184 may permit the booms 100 to move relative to each other without stressing or breaking the lower fluid supply line 180 extending throughout the boom system 10, thereby making the overall boom system flexible. The flexible sections of tubing 184 may comprise complete lengths of flexible tubing extending across the entire gap 200 between the individual booms 100, or one or more short flexible connectors that connect the remainder of the tubing that makes up the lower fluid supply line 180.

[0030] A plurality of lower fluid ports 182 may be located along the longitudinal span of the lower fluid supply line 180. Preferably, the lower fluid ports 182 consist of a great number of small holes in the lower fluid supply line 180 that are specially adapted to provide a steady stream of gas, such as air, in the form of a rising curtain of gas bubbles 186. The orientation of the lower fluid ports 182 relative to the surface of the control side may be fixed, or pivoted through a range of motion 183 in an alternative embodiment. Each lower fluid port 182 communicates with the lower fluid supply line 180 so that fluid can flow from the lower fluid supply line to the lower fluid ports.

[0031] A first end 188 of the lower fluid supply line 180 may be connected to a second fluid pump (not shown), or compressed fluid source (not shown). The second fluid pump or source may be adapted to provide the lower fluid supply line 180 with fluid, preferably a gas, and more preferably air. Fluid (preferably air drawn from the ambient atmosphere) may be supplied to the lower fluid ports 182 from the lower fluid supply line 180. The fluid is preferably provided at a pressure sufficient to produce a rising curtain of fluid 186, preferably air bubbles and more preferably high pressure air bubbles, along the outer surface of the control side 110. The rising curtain for fluid 186 may encourage material, such as debris, that approaches the control side 110 under water, to rise towards the surface of the fluid body in which the boom system 10 is disposed. As the material reaches the upper surface of the fluid body, the horizontally directed jets 166 may direct the material to flow tangentially along the outer surface of the boom system 10 until the material by-passes the boom system altogether. For example, in a river born boom system, unwanted material may be passed downstream by the system.

[0032] The individual booms 100 in the boom system 10 may be structurally connected together by one or more cables 170, which are preferably constructed of stainless steel. Three cables 170 are shown in FIG. 1, however, it is appreciated that more or fewer cables could be provided without departing from the intended scope of the present invention. Furthermore, the cables 170 may run through the interior of the booms 100, run along the outer surface of the booms, or be connected to the ends of each boom, in alternative embodiments of the present invention. The cables 170 may include connectors, such as turnbuckles, eyelets, clamps, or any other suitable device, to connect one cable to the next.

[0033] The gaps 200 may be enclosed with a flexible covering 210 (shown in FIG. 5). Examples of material that may be used for the flexible covering 210 include flexible heavyweight urethane or PVC coated nylon or polyester fabric. The flexible covering 210 may be connected to the protective outer sheathing 140 by snaps, zippers, clasps, hooks, toggles, buttons, ties, or any other means. Preferably, the flexible covering 210 is sufficiently flexible to allow the individual booms 100 in the boom system 10 to pivot relative to one another, and to give sufficiently for the overall boom system to have an acceptable wave and heave response when disposed in an active body of fluid such as an ocean, lake, or river.

[0034] With reference to FIG. 2, in which like reference characters refer to like elements, the end of a boom 100 is shown. The upper fluid supply line 160 is located along the outer surface of the non-control side 112 of the boom. Fluid passages 165 connect the upper fluid supply line 160 with the upper fluid ports 162.

[0035] With reference to FIG. 3, in which like reference characters refer to like elements, the end view of a boom 100 and deck 300 is shown. The deck 300 may include one or more floatation members 310, a deck surface 320, and one or more handrails 330. The deck 300 may be adapted to be walked upon by a person. The boom 100 may be connected to an underside of the deck 300.

[0036] With reference to FIGS. 4 and 5, in which like reference characters refer to like elements, the side view of a boom 100 (FIG. 4), and two booms 100 in a boom system 10 (FIG. 5) are shown. The booms 100 are shown to be anchored to a submerged surface by anchors 174. A flexible covering 210 is shown extending across the gap 200 between the booms 100.

[0037] With reference to a method embodiment of the present invention, when operated, the boom system 10 may provide a method of preventing unwanted material, such as debris, from migrating from the control side 110 of the boom system 10 to the non-control side 112. As a result, the boom system 10 may be used to prevent unwanted material from entering a cooling fluid uptake port for a plant located on a river, ocean, or lake. Alternatively, the boom system 10 may be used to contain an area of a fouled fluid body.

[0038] With renewed reference to FIG. 1, the boom system 10 may be provided with a constant supply of fluid to the upper fluid supply line 166, preferably water, and a constant supply of relatively high pressure fluid to the lower fluid supply line 180, preferably air. The supply of air to the lower fluid supply line may produce a curtain of air bubbles 186 that rise through the fluid body in which the boom system 10 floats. This curtain of air may buoy up any unwanted material that is located in the fluid body near the boom system. As the unwanted material rises to the surface of the fluid body it may come under the influence of the tangentially directed jets 166. The combination of the air curtain 186 and the jets 166 tends to encourage the unwanted material to migrate longitudinally along the control side 110 of the boom system 10 in one direction until it is washed away. In a river environment, for example, the boom system 10 prevents unwanted material from getting past it by directing the material downstream until it no longer presents a threat to the system.

[0039] It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that variations and modifications of the present invention can be made without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. For example, variation may be made in the materials selected for each element of the boom system 10 without departing from the intended scope of the present invention. Furthermore, variation of the shape of the boom 100 may be made without departing from the intended scope of the present invention. Taken on end, the booms 100 may have a triangular shape (as shown in the figures), a rectangular shape (also as shown), or any other functional shape, such as circular, oval, trapezoidal, or other. The size, shape, and placement of the upper and lower fluid supply lines and ports may also vary without departing from the intended scope of the present invention. Still further, the fluid supplied in the upper and lower fluid supply lines may vary from the preferred embodiment without departing from the intended scope of the invention.