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Retiring approach tames high seas.

On calm seas, vacuum cleaners can skim petroleum off of floating slicks for disposal or recycling. Unfortunately, waves complicate things, because present-day oil skimmers are ineffective in waves over four feet, according to ocean engineer Tadeusz Kowalski of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. But one or more rows of floating breakwaters - each assembled from bundles of used auto tires - might reduce rough seas to manageable waves, he says. Lab and field tests of such tire breakwaters reduced the height of waves by 50 to 70 percent, he reports. This application might also be another productive way to recycle some of the 285 million tires discarded in the United States each year (SN: 3/7/92, p. 155).

Kowalski envisions deploying individual, 20-tire modules-each weighing 450 pounds -- to the windward side of a leaking ship or floating slick, using tugs, hovercraft, or helicopters. At the site, scuba divers would assemble them into four-module squares (see diagram) and link the squares into chains of the desired length. Kowalski links tires within each module using four-inch-wide industrial conveyor belts, bolted into a band. "A new and better way of holding them together [might be] to glue them with an epoxy-based [compound]" recently developed by a tire retreading company, he notes.
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Title Annotation:floating breakwaters made from used car tires
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 24, 1993
Previous Article:Lasers map slicks from the air ... and estimate their thickness.
Next Article:The cold facts of life.

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