A State-of-the-Art Spill Avoidance System

The American Underpressure System (AUPS) is a dynamic system which creates a slight vacuum (two to four pounds per square inch) in each cargo tank.  This vacuum, assisted by the outside hydrostatic pressure of the surrounding water, prevents or minimizes cargo loss in the event of hull rupture.  In case of a bottom rupture caused by grounding, nearly all of the cargo can be protected.  In the case of side hull damage, cargo below the level of the damage will be lost, while the cargo above the side hull rupture will be protected.

State-of-the-art hardware and software are used that can easily be installed in tankers.   This system can be used in conjunction with existing inert gas systems that are mandatory on most tankers to prevent explosions. 

"In the case of a bottom rupture caused by grounding, nearly all of the cargo can be protected."

AUPS consists essentially of exhaust blowers with their isolation and control valves tapping into the inert gas system seal/non-return valves.  A negative pressure of inert gas is created in the ullage space - the volume of gas above the oil. 

This negative pressure or underpressure is continuously adjusted and prevents oil from spilling if the tanker is ruptured.  Stated simply, the oil is held in the tank by the slight underpressure.

The retrofitting of this technology on existing tankers and barges, small and large shipyards worldwide could realize about $5 billion in new business, a significant portion of which could be accomplished in U.S. facilities.

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