Minnesota Patent of the Month – November 2021

A cofferdam (also called a coffer) is a temporary enclosure built within a body of water and constructed to allow the enclosed area to be pumped out, creating a dry work environment for the major work to proceed. Coffers are common in construction that takes place over or within water. The coffers are usually dismantled once work is completed. These are labor intensive tools, requiring lots of work to construct, install, and dismantle. Any leak can completely undermine the dry working area.

Subsurface, Inc. are experts in drainage structures and as such have plenty of knowledge on how to drain water away from a work area. They have recently designed a portable cofferdam which reduces the labor intensity and improves the range of application to include smaller construction areas.

Their cofferdam design has three sides with an opening to create a U-shape. The spaced opening can be increased or decreased based on the construction site, allowing it to function for wider or narrower sites. To operate this coffer, the user transports it to the construction site, especially one such as the intake of a culvert. The coffer is positioned so that the sidewalls create a watertight seal after inserted into the ground surface. Positioning is done via a cable and backhoe to lift and move it into place, and then pressed down to drive it into the ground. A waterpump is then used to move water out of the enclosed area until it is dry enough for work to commence. A backhoe can then be used to remove it when work is complete. This portable design does not need to be erected and dismantled for every site and can simply be transported and pushed into place. This simplifies construction projects and reduces both cost and time commitments to creating a dry work area.

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