Editor’s note: More than a month after what is now the largest oil spill in U.S. history, ideas from inventors on how to stop the flow keep coming. I’ve decided to repost this May 21, 2010 entry at the top again – be sure to review the comments below:

BP’s busted pipe continues to gush crude into the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting slick is now poisoning shores. Brace yourself for goo-covered pelicans, belly-up alligators, wasteland that was marshland.

BP officials – surprise! – now concede they underestimated how much oil is belching from its hose 5,000 feet underwater. Buckling to pressure from government and others, BP yesterday set up a Web cam. You can see the grainy video feed from its ROV monitor.

We launched our 2010 Collegiate Alternative-Energy Challenge to showcase the need for energy innovation before this latest catastrophe. I would hope the BP disaster will serve as an urgent, game-changing motivator to move away from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels – what an apt description.

Meanwhile, inventors from across the country have inundated BP, the U.S. government and, yes, Inventors Digest, with ideas on how to stop the flow of oil into the ocean. Even actor Kevin Costner is stepping up – he funded a sort of vacuum cleaner technology developed by Ocean Therapy Solutions.

One inventor from New Jersey suggested dumping mounds of sandbags, ant-hill style, on top of the gushing pipe. The mass could stem the flow, he reasons, and even could be drilled later for oil extraction.

Michael Max of Texas also wrote us yesterday with a solution. (We featured Max’s new horizontal windmill idea in our April 2010 print edition.)

“I don’t care if you remove my name,” he said, “I would just like to see the leak stopped. After all this is in my backyard.”

Here’s his Horizon Leak Solution:


  • Bring the 4 story house back to the surface for modifications. Completely remove the top of the structure and reattach with hinge.
  • Put some sort of locking mechanism opposite of hinge, something the robotic submersibles can handle.
  • Add an extra short piece cable to the top of the of the connecting pipe flange.
  • Lower house back down with the top open.
  • Once house is in place unhook it and have submersables connect 1 hook to the short piece of cable on the flange.
  • Take up tension with the topside crane and close top.
  • Run submersibles in to secure hinged top in place.



  • Bring house up to surface. Have valves & welding crew waiting on deck.
  • Cut holes in top of house and ready valves to be put in place.
  • Send house back down with all of the valves open.
  • Put house in place. Connect mile long pipe to surface.
  • Close all of the valves.
  • Done.


Either one of these solutions should only take 12 to 18 man hours to complete, Max says.