Inflatable oil booms are typically used onboard response vessels where a foam filled boom would be too bulky. The reduced volume of an inflatable boom is an asset when boom has to be transported, possibly by air, to the spill site. They are typically used in open waters where the higher buoyancy to weight ratio assists the performance of the boom in waves.
There are two types of inflatable booms – self-inflating and pressure inflated. Self-inflating booms rely on springs or coils that are compressed in storage, when deployed the springs open drawing in air via one way air valves.
Inflatable oil containment booms are available in all sizes from 24 inches / 600mm all the way up to 138″ / 3500mm, although the most common offshore booms are normally in the 1500 to 2200mm range. The size of the boom needed depends on the sea conditions. Inflatable oil spill boom is typically manufactured from synthetic rubber / neoprene with nylon or polyester plies, or polyurethane fabric. PVC fabric is not normally used as it does not hold air well.