The driving force of the project is based on the concept that oil spills can have a significant impact on coasts, beaches and shoals. If pollution takes place at open sea, vessels usually don't reach the location quick enough to contain the contaminated area. The area can rapidly expand. The oil might hit areas which can not be easily reached by traditional vehicles or vessels, nor by land and nor by sea, for the lack of water depth or because of muddy terrain.
The HOVERSPILL project is mainly focused to operate on the transitional areas between land and sea, where shoals and/or difficult access areas far away from ports, make oil spill problems more relevant.
The main objective of HOVERSPILL is the development of an innovative procedure and system for oil spill emergencies, quick to react and with effective remediation.
New operational procedures and protocols will be defined in order to match the new technological approach and vehicle characteristics. Ultimately the project finally aims at acting as, or fully support, a future European technology platform for new hovercraft assisting the policy objectives of the ERA.
HOVERSPILL will study the best approach for prevention and for remediation. It will use a specific air cushion vehicle, completely amphibious, capable of working on land and water. This hovercraft will be designed to be cheap, with easy maintenance, capable of high speed (>30 kn) and capable of storage for spilled oil. It can be transported quickly over roadways and can be parked on land or beaches near potential oil spill dangers.
New operational procedures and protocols will be defined in order to match the new technological approach and the characteristics of the hovercraft.
Hovercraft to clean ocean oil spills
Oil spills can have devastating consequences for coastal and open sea waters, and timely responses are often limited by the vehicles used to reach the scene. Now, thanks to EU funding, a specialised hovercraft that will enable immediate emergency action has been unveiled.
It was developed as part of the 'Multienvironment air cushion oil spill fast response and post emergency remediation system' (HOVERSPILL) project. The aim was to solve the problem that traditional vehicles have in reaching areas like shoals, beaches and muddy points.
The team set out to create a vessel that would be cheap and easy to maintain, and easy to transport and store. The craft also needed to be capable of a high operative speed, and of storing oil collected from spills.
Researchers successfully met these goals by producing an amphibious air cushion vehicle and an oil–water separator. This came after in-depth studies into critical features, like an intuitive piloting system, the ability to navigate rocks and a versatile platform to transport different kinds of equipment.
All the necessary components were individually tested and, once fully assembled, prototypes were tested in the field. Feedback from members of the consortium as well as operators was very positive.
The hovercraft is highly modular, which will allow it to be used in different contexts and scenarios. This innovative solution represents a milestone in the response and remediation of oil spills.