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MIT Hobby Shop Spawns Offbeat Creations Like ‘Hairball’

Folkers Rojas calls his invention, simply, “the hairball.”

Inspired by the 2010 BP Plc oil spill, the prototype is a small motor that feeds wire into a ruptured pipe. As the wire gets entangled inside, it forms a hairball-like mass that oil compresses into a nearly impermeable plug. Rojas said trial runs show it could shrink a leak from 33 gallons a second -- the rate of BP’s -- to three. Such results have attracted oil executives looking to prevent another environmental catastrophe.