Hey, BP — this giant funnel might be the answer

BP claims it's received thousands of suggestions to help cap its gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Other companies are even crowd-sourcing the problem. One suggestion that might deserve more than a toss in the trash is the "Great Big Funnel Collector."

The anti-climatically named Great Big Funnel Collector with Canopy/Drop Sheet Containment involves placing a wide physical barrier over the underwater leak target, and lowering an upside-down funnel — most likely be high strength and rigid — connected to a pipe to pump oil up to the surface.

Once the funnel is anchored to the ocean floor, a canopy of non-rigid impermeable material is then unraveled around the edges of the cone, draping the oil spill site and providing very limited escape routes for oil. Buoyancy devices would be attached to restrain any funnel movement, maintaining the vertical position of the funnel.

Sounds like the "top hat" BP has already tried, right? Wrong. This is better since the collection point is wider, and you're not attaching a mechanical device to a high-pressure stream of oil.

Via InnoCentive