If anything good could be said about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it would be that it has alerted us to our unpreparedness. It is my intention to remedy that with this device.
The device is designed so that when it is lowered into an open pipe and its threaded shaft is rotated, it will expand to grip the pipe and plug the open end. It requires rotational force alone to operate and it is designed in a way that reduces the chance of malfunction. It is also easy to use, and therefore less subject to operator error and better suited for rapid deployment.
Because of the manner in which it operates, this device could be used to plug many different diameters of pipe without modification, and does not require a perfect pipe end (i.e. perfectly round & horizontal) to operate.
A video fully illustrating the device in operation and containing the following explanation may be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZsgWeUsXrM
The flexible alignment fingers at the tip of the device are used to align the plug with the pipe end.
The clamp assembly is lowered into pipe so that the clamp assembly is at least a plug length below the mouth of the pipe.
The threaded rod is spun rapidly.
The fins on the clamp assembly prevent it from matching the rod's rotation.
The rotational differential moves the clamp assembly nut downwards, extending the hardened teeth of the clamp assembly into the pipe wall.
The tortional clutch prevents excessive force against the pipe wall.
As the threaded rod spins, the plug is lowered into the mouth of the pipe by the same method as with the clamp assembly nut.
The threaded rod is sized and pitched to provide adequate plugging force.
Another tortional clutch or a shear assembly may be placed above the plug to prevent over-tightening of the plug.
After the device is in place, additional steps may be taken to secure it and the threaded rod above the plug may be removed at an upper clutch or shear assembly.
The exact design of the device and construction materials are not static. The images and video provided illustrate one possible implementation of the general ideas and method of operation I propose. Therefore; cost, size, and method of manufacturing cannot be provided, as they are dynamic in nature.