|Used tyres, Paul McIlroy 2008, used under this Creative Commons license.|
Climate change and global warming have caused natural disasters to occur more frequently. Hurricane Sandy is estimated to bring about USD$ 33 billion of damages just to New York alone. Stephen Salter, one of the leading marine engineers in Britain, has devised a method to prevent the forming of hurricanes by using old car tyres. He is being backed by Microsoft billionaires Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold to patent this ingenious idea.
Understanding the process of formation of hurricanes is the best way to tackle the problem. You can read my previous post on how hurricanes are formed here. Heat from the oceans is the main factor of the formation of hurricanes and Salter's idea is to reduce the surface temperature of the oceans' water. The critical temperature at which hurricanes form is at 26.5 degree Celsius By reducing the the oceans' surface temperature to below 26.5 degree Celsius, it is very difficult for the hurricanes to form and causes damage to the affected areas.
The idea is to build a large ring using many used tyres so that it will float on the oceans' surface and extend deep into the ocean to form a tube about 100 metres down from the surface. As the waves hit the ring, the warm waters are trapped inside the ring and will be pushed towards the cooler waters below by the successive waves. The warm waters will then mix with the cool waters below and eventually, the oceans' surface will be cooled below the critical temperature to form hurricanes. The device is named as "Salter Sink" and it is being developed by Intellectual Ventures, a new tech company based in Seattle, run by Nathan Myhrvold and backed by Bill Gates.
The devices will be positioned at the regions most susceptible to hurricanes to prevent or slow down the formation of hurricanes. Although it may take from 100 to 1000 Salter Sinks or even more to dissipate sufficient heat from the oceans' surface, the cost would be much lower than the damage caused by the hurricanes.
For more information on Salter Sink, you can visit this page on Intellectual Ventures website.