From his vantage point high above the earth in the International Space Station, Astronaut Ed Lu captured this broad view of Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Credit: NASA.

A new idea presented by Professor Stephen Salter and now adopted by the company Intellectual Ventures aims to use old car tires to mitigate future hurricanes, by halting the process of their creation.

Stephen Salter got the idea after the catastrophic hurricane Katrina that caused enormous damage to New Orleans in 2005 and islands in the Caribbean ocean.He wants to recycle old tires to stop hurricanes before they even form.

Salter Sinks

The idea is to link car tires together to create a floating ring on the water surface. Then a tunnel down beneath the surface to funnel warm surface water several hundred meters where it eventually cools down. This would thereby remove warm surface water that is essential to the formation of hurricanes.

The invention is named Salter Sinks, and by the placement of hundreds of these scattered throughout the hurricane belt during hurricane season – the disaster could possibly be avoided, or at least mitigated.

The billionaire Bill Gates has now joined and invested into the project. And the company Intellectual Ventures has adopted the concept. With the help of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, founding is now within reach to cover patents costs and initial development.


Many questions remain to be solved, though. For example, who the buyer would be. Possibly governmental agencies all over the world.

But the concept is just a theory to be proven. The cooling down of surface water may have unforeseen negative adverse effects, such as mitigating the gulf stream?

The potential benefits would, however, be enormous, since over the last decade hurricanes have caused damage of around 200 billion in the United States alone. And not counting all the human lives, tremendous costs that cannot be estimated.