barreras contencion derrames | How to choose an oil containment boom

How to choose an oil containment boom

How to choose an oil containment boom for use in different environments

In general there are two types of containment boom (see fig.1):

  • Flat floatation containment booms.
  • Cylindrical floatation containment booms (floats may be foam-filled or inflatable).
tipos flotadores barreras contencion01 2 | How to choose an oil containment boom

Containment boom characteristics

Three factors must be borne in mind when choosing a containment boom: buoyancy, roll response and heave response.


Is important in order to maintain sufficient freeboard in rough seas. It depends directly on boom volume (see fig. 2).

Roll response

Is the rotation of the boom from rest due to wave, wind or current forces. A high roll angle reduces effective freeboard and draft, thereby decreasing the boom’s containment properties (fig. 3).

Heave response

Is the ability of the boom to react to the vertical motion of the water surface and is proportional to the lateral area of the boom at the waterline, termed the water plane area. A boom with poor heave response may be submerged by a wave and a boom with good heave response will float above the wave (see figs. 4 , 5 and 6).

tipos flotadores barreras contencion 0 1 | How to choose an oil containment boom

Behaviour of different containment boom types

Flat floatation booms have relatively low buoyancy due to their low volume, have poor roll response to wave, wind or current forces and poor heave response due to their low water plane area. However their flat design means they are compact and can be stowed on winders, making them easy to use. They are suitable for use in protected waters such as harbours and lakes.

Cylindrical floatation booms have high buoyancy and maintain freeboard height in rough seas. Roll is kept to a minimum because the skirt moves independently from the floats and is weighed down by the bottom chain. The large water plane area gives good heave response and good wave-following characteristics.

Foam-filled floatation versions can be immediately deployed but are bulky to store, while inflatable floatation versions are either self-inflatable or require compressors for inflation and deployment. However, inflatable versions have the advantage of being stowable on winders, thereby taking up little storage space.

Flat floatationFoam-filled cylindrical floatationInflatable floatationSelf-inflatable floatation
Roll response+++
Heave response+++
Storage space+++
Deployment time+++

Water body classification for spill control systems (ASTM F625)

TypeWave height (m)Examples of general conditions
Calm water 0 – 0.3 mSmall, short, non-breaking waves
Protected water0 – 1Small waves, some whitecaps
Open water0 – 2Moderate waves, frequent whitecaps
Open water (rough)> 2Large waves, foam crests and some spray

Guideline for the selection of booms according to water body classification (ASTM F1523)

Boom propertyCalm waterCalm water – CurrentProtected waterOpen water
Height* (mm) (freeboard + draft)150 – 600200 – 600450 – 1100900 – 2300+
Minimum reserve buoyancy to weight ratio2:13:13:17:1
Minimum total tensile strength (N)6800230002300045000
Minimum skirt fabric tensile strength (N/50 mm) 2600260026003500
Minimum skirt tear strength (N)450 450450450
* Freeboard should be between 33% and 50% of total boom height

Markleen containment booms

Flat foam floatation booms

Markleen Flexi Series Type:Floating containment oil booms Operating environment: Calm and protected waters Deployment: Immediate, from boom reel or storage cage Recovery / Storage: Boom reel or storage cageMarkleen P Series Type: Rigid external floatation Operating environment: Permanent. Calm and protected waters. Deployment: Boom reel Recovery / Storage: Boom reel
elegir barrera contención Serie Flexielegir barrera contención Serie P

Cylindrical flotation booms

arkleen Ecosolid
Tipo: Barrera de contención con flotadores cilíndricos rellenos de espuma
Uso: Aguas protegidas
Despliegue: Inmediato, manual
Estiba: Jaula o contenedor
Markleen Z Series Type: Inflatable floatation Operating environment: Protected and open waters Deployment: Boom reel using inflator Recovery / Storage: Boom reel
Elegir barrera contención EcosolidElegir barrera contención Serie Z
Markleen Seamaster Type: Operating environment: Deployment: Recovery / Storage:Markleen Uniboom® X Series Type: Self-inflatable containment booms Operating environment: Protected and open waters Deployment: Immediate from boom reel. Remote control optional. Recovery / Storage: Boom reel. Remote control optional.
Select Seamaster Containment BoomsSelect Self-inflatable containment booms

We know that when faced with a potential disaster it is often difficult to act swiftly, especially when you have to use unfamiliar equipment. Markleen’s experienced staff will help you choose the most suitable oil spill containment and clean-up equipment for each task.

Any questions? Contact us, we will help you make the right decisions to be prepared for oil spills.