Plugging an Oil Leak

Recent research indicates that adding cornstarch to drilling mud increases the likelihood that a “top-kill” procedure will plug a leaking oil well. Adding cornstarch to water (or mud) turns it into a non-Newtonian fluid with viscoelastic properties that prevent the instabilities that lead to turbulent breakup. On the left, an underwater photo of the Deepwater Horizons leak; in the center, colored water breaks into turbulence when descending into oil; on the right, water with cornstarch maintains its coherence when pumped downward into the oil. # (PDF of research paper)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: