Maryland Patent of the Month – January 2022

A tropical ocean naturally maintains a temperature difference between the surface and deep water. Surface water (top 100 ft.) often sits constantly around 75-85°F. Between 100 ft. and 2500 ft. the temperature sits around 35-45°F. Finally, below this 2500 ft. depth, the temperature is a fairly constant 40°F. 

The Abell Foundation, Inc. has developed a device which can take advantage of this temperature differential to provide energy to a grid. The device capitalizes on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) which produces renewable energy from solar energy stored as heat in the ocean’s tropical regions. OTEC technology was initially developed in the 1970’s but was ultimately too inefficient to be a viable energy source.

Abell’s technology has successfully surpassed this limitation, creating a more efficient energy conversion while still using the ocean temperature difference. Their device is vessel-mounted and designed to provide electricity to a grid 24/7/365. This offshore power generation system is designed with a floating portable platform equipped with OTEC heat exchange units, turbine generators, and water intake and discharge systems. The system uses more advanced heat exchangers to increase efficiency during OTEC. Their design is also more storm resistant by modifying the pipe material and connection point. For instance, their design uses flexible piping in shallow regions and rigid piping in deep water intake and discharge sections. The pipes are also designed to easily disconnect from the platform in the case of a hurricane and to be easily reattached afterwards – preventing the likelihood of pipes breaking. This more robust and sturdy design contributes to the lifespan of the system

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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