Our goal is to complete development of the Ocean Energy Turbine and Laminar Flow Test Tank by June 2014. Development of the turbine has started, but we need your help to complete it.
Why should I help?
The Ocean Energy Turbine is the first commercially viable clean renewable energy source that has the potential to compete with and eventually replace fossil fuels and nuclear energy dependence.
Who is involved?
Crowd Energy is a small collection of Engineers, Inventors, and Scientists. We have specialists in SubSea Engineering, Oceanography, Marine Ecology and Conservation, Electrical Engineering, Fabrication and Design. “Imagine nerds in wetsuits and flippers…” We have the experience, the technology, and the expertise to make this project a success.
Will I have to change my lifestyle?
We are not asking you to change anything about your way of life. We are not asking you to use less energy or be less comfortable. We are asking you to do your part by enabling us to provide you and your family with a cleaner, smarter, more reliable, source of energy. Imagine the joy of using as much energy as you need without the guilt attached of harming the environment.
Why not go for the Big Corporate Money?
It has been our experience that the Big Corporate money, while easy to obtain, usually comes with hidden agendas. We are dedicated to making this project a reality without being bought and shelved by a competing energy provider offering lucrative funding. This is our main reason for looking to Crowdfunding until we are large enough to fight our own battles. We are in it for the science and the promise of clean limitless energy. We hope that you will be involved for the same reasons.
Why Ocean Currents?
When most people think of clean renewable energy, they think about solar panels first and wind turbines second. This is because wind and solar are the most easily accessible forms of renewable energy, so as a result they are the most common. Wind and solar energy have a number of applications where they excel but they are not a realistic solution to replacing Fossil Fuel and Nuclear Energy because they do not meet the criteria.
Can we actually replace Fossil Fuel and Nuclear Energy?
To replace Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Energy, a renewable energy source must meet four basic criteria.
1. Near limitless supply of energy - Energy that will not run out in the next 1000 years and comes from a source that has existed for the last 1000 years.
2. A constant even supply of energy - No periods of non-production , no spikes in production, no movement in energy location.
3. High energy density - Energy can be collected at one location with realistic commitment of technology and resources.
4. Survivability - Energy supply and collection is not disrupted by storms, natural disaster, war, etc. Ocean Current Energy is the only form of renewable non-polluting energy that meets all of these requirements and it is the only energy source with the potential to replace Fossil Fuel and Nuclear Energy.
Where does all of this energy come from?
Most people know the ocean is constantly moving, but not everyone knows how much it moves. Please take a moment to watch this video of Global Ocean Currents from NASA to better understand the potential energy of the global oceans. You will notice that the Gulf Stream Ocean Current off the coast of North America has the energy density required to power most of North America. “Love NASA…”
Why didn’t I know about all this energy?
It is not common knowledge. Very few people have spent extended periods of time on the sea floor. The people who truly understand ocean currents and have experienced their force first hand is a very small group of scientist and sub sea engineers. One of our biggest obstacles has been peoples lack of knowledge about the energy potential of ocean currents. One of our goals is to educate the world about the fact that the ocean is not still, it is an eternally moving flow of water and a near limitless source of clean renewable energy.
Are you replacing Solar and Wind Power too?
No.. We are big supporters of solar and wind power when installed in appropriate locations, but if the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing you are not generating electricity. Ocean currents are always flowing at a constant velocity and ocean current turbines are always generating electricity at a steady even rate. Ocean currents provide reliable consistent energy. One issue with wind power is the light obstruction, noise, and vibration when wind turbines are located too close to populated areas. We have an advantage here because our ocean turbines run almost silent and no one will see them or hear them when they are installed on the sea floor. Invisible reliable energy.
Don’t we already have Hydropower from dams?
If you add up all the rivers that flow to the Atlantic Ocean you get 0.6 Million cubic meters per second of potential Hydropower in the US. The Gulf Stream by comparison reaches 150 Million cubic meters per second of potential Hydropower from its Ocean Currents. Now take into consideration that the flow of the Gulf Stream is a small fraction of the global Ocean Currents. The truth is, there is more power in Ocean Currents than we as humans could ever use, and this is a clean, non-polluting, eternal, renewable energy. It is time for us to make use of this limitless energy and end our dependence on Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Energy. We have the technology and we have the experience to make this a reality, but we need your help to make it happen.
How would this help Humanity?
The main benefit is to reduce pollution from Fossil Fuels and potential multi decade long contamination from Nuclear Energy. Ocean Current Energy is not going to put giant pools of oil in your ocean, and its not going to fill caves with leaking barrels of Nuclear sludge. The second major benefit is to greatly reduce carbon emission and global warming. There are less obvious benefits, like not having to go to war with our neighbors to protect our oil supply, and not having to rely on our neighbors for our oil supply. Ocean Currents not only represent energy independence, but they also represent energy reliability. Ocean Current Turbines are well protected sitting on the sea floor from dangers like Hurricanes, Typhoons, Tsunamis, Terrorist attacks, EMP from Solar Flares, etc..
We have a number of versions of the production scale design. One of the most interesting is a portable Ocean Turbine in a towable space frame that can be easily moved to a location off the coast of an area ravaged by natural disaster or war. This autonomous unit can be dropped to the sea floor and almost instantly provide a source of power and bottle quality drinking water for the affected area.
And they make fresh drinking water?
Yes! We actually pioneered the concept. One thing Ocean Current Turbines have is an abundance of shaft torque. This excess torque can be used to drive high pressure Reverse Osmosis Desalinization Pumps to provide not only limitless energy, but also limitless fresh water. There will come a day when the fresh water may be more valuable than the clean energy. Think of what humanity could accomplish with unlimited fresh water and unlimited clean energy. “Ok, Im excited….”
Are you going to put Wind Turbines on the Sea Floor?
No, my friend.. That is a bad idea for a number of reasons; Thin cross section propellers commonly associated with wind turbines are designed for low energy density, high speed energy collection. They are an obvious choice but not a smart choice. We started from scratch to design a very high torque, very low rotational speed turbine that would be optimized for collecting Ocean Current Energy. One of our turbines can collect as much energy as thirty propeller style turbines in the same footprint. Our turbine is also optimized for Marine Conservation, because it has a specific acoustic signature and moves slower than the local marine life, allowing them time to swim around it.
What do the Turbines look like?
Testing the Ocean Energy Turbine prototype in a fresh water spring.
How do the Turbines work?
The turbine is composed of three sets of blades. The blades close when they are moving in the same direction as the flow of water. When the blades close they create an obstacle that the water has to push out of its path of flow. When water pushes on the closed blades it causes the main shaft and generator to rotate. This rotational energy is collected in the form of electricity from the generator. When the blades are moving in the opposite direction as the flow of water they open. When the blades open they create minimal drag in the oncoming flow of water.
This design creates very high surface area and drag on the power stroke side of the turbine while creating very low surface area and drag on the returning side. This design has proven to be the most efficient for collecting ocean currents.
What are the environmental impacts?
We take the marine environment very seriously, and everything we build is designed to work in harmony with its ocean environment. We have Marine Animal Behaviorist and Oceanographers as well as Marine Biologists as part of our team to ensure that our project will have no negative impact on the marine environment. We can accomplish this by using eco friendly materials and coatings on the turbine and selecting locations away from reef habitats.
What is the end goal?
With your help, we will build the second generation turbine prototype and test tank and do the required data collection and design optimization. The next step will be to move the turbine prototype and test tank to Florida Atlantic University (fau.edu) to have our data and design verified. Once verified, we will build a larger sea trial prototype and install it in the Florida Atlantic University open ocean testing site, off the coast of South Florida. At the FAU test site we can collect data and generate electricity on a small scale. Using the data collected from the FAU test site we can build the first production scale turbine. Our vision is to have four production scale turbines installed and feeding the power grid by 2015. Once we reach this goal we can prove that Deep Ocean Current Energy is cost effective, environmentally friendly, and is a viable alternative to fossil fuel and nuclear energy. A smarter solution, funded by the people who care, will be an amazing accomplishment! We hope that one day you can look back and say “I helped make that happen”
How big will the Production Scale Turbines be?
The Production Scale Turbines will be modular so they can be configured to operate in almost any location. The smallest Production Scale Turbine will be 30 Meters across. The Largest will be significantly larger. There are many locations where an array of multiple turbines is desirable to supply high load areas.
Where has the money come from so far?
We have been self funding this project for eight years. We would never ask anyone to put money into a project that we had not put our own money into. The Ocean Energy Turbine project has outgrown our ability to self fund it. By bringing our project to Kickstarter, and being funded by the wonderful people who are part of this community, we will be able to rapidly move the turbine project toward commercial scale power generation. We are not doing this to help ourselves, we are doing it to help you and future generations. Everyone talks about saving the world, donating to this project is your chance to be part of an actual solution.
How will the $75,000 be utilized?
The $75,000 will pay for material for a bare bones demonstrator project consisting of a second generation prototype turbine and a laminar flow test tank. All of the engineering has been completed for the turbine prototype and CAD files are prepared for 4 axis rapid prototyping.
The second generation turbine prototype structure will be manufactured from CNC 6061 T-6 Aluminum, which will be media polished and clear anodized.
The second generation turbine prototype blades will be made from a composite carbon fiber. The turbine will drive a rotational torque transducer and a digitally calibrated brake. This allows us to collect torque / power data at different water velocities. Depending on level of funding achieved, we will be installing a live web feed from an underwater camera in the test tank and a camera in the test lab.
Laminar Flow Test Tank?
The Laminar flow test tank will be 10? x 20? x 5?deep with an over tank work platform and a 30? x 60? viewing window in the side. The test tank will be built from a steel square tube frame lined with multiple layers of marine plywood and coated with a liquid rubber membrane. After pricing a number of “prebuilt” test tanks, we decided to build our own tank to conform to our limited budget. The water flow in the tank is generated by four 5hp pumps arranged to turn half of the tank into a eductor, so we can use a small fast flow of water to circulate a large volume of water in the tank. Once again, the improvised eductor arrangement was decided on to fit the budget. The tank will be built where it can be transported by Semi truck, and when we have completed using it for testing, we will donate it to the Florida Atlantic University Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center.
Note: All of the CAD has been done on FreeCad and the animations have been done on Blender, – Both free open source applications, once again to meet the limited budget. Solidworks is on the wish list and if Dassault Systèmes sent us a copy we would be happy to put it to good use. Ahem!
How will you collect Data?
The data collection and control will be analog / digital interface to a custom LabView application. If funds allow we will output real-time data to our website with a special page for monitoring turbine output.
Where will the prototype be built and tested?
At the moment we are being provided a workspace by a local manufacturer in Zephyrhills Florida, and while small, it is adequate for construction of the turbine prototype and test tank. As we grow we will need to look for a warehouse space near Florida Atlantic University and in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.
Who will validate the testing and data?
What would you do with $1,000,000?
We could achieve production scale generation of clean energy much faster. Considering utility coal plants in the United States emitted a total of 1.7 billion tons of CO2 per year, the faster we can solve this problem the better the world can breathe. With the additional resources we would move forward with a dedicated workspace near Florida Atlantic University. We could upgrade our flow simulation computers for faster flow modeling. We could hire a dedicated Computer Aided Designer to help make design changes faster. We could build the sea trial prototype in parallel with the FAU testing to prove the viability and cost efficiency of Deep Ocean Energy much faster. We could start on the design of the production scale turbine and test it in flow simulation.
What would you do with $5,000,000?
We would start a Crowdfunded Renewable Energy Utility, sell clean energy back to the power grid, and use the profits and carbon credits to build more Ocean Energy Turbines.
Additional Technology Information:
We have been asked to provide additional technical details about the turbine and generator. We will be updating this section with ongoing specs and data.
Eco Friendly Generator: The generator module has been specifically designed for the Ocean Energy Turbine. It is the result of eight years of research and testing. Its primary goal is to not create any negative impact on the marine environment. The second goal is to reach the maximum possible efficiency while providing decades of reliable service in a harsh ocean environment. To achieve these goals required development of new technology.
Magnetically Shielded – The Ocean Energy Turbine’s generator is designed to be completely magnetically shielded. This shielding prevents the generator from producing any rotating magnetic fields or transverse electromagnetic radiation that could affect the surrounding marine environment. The power transmission lines are also shielded to prevent electromagnetic radiation. Every effort has been made to ensure the protection of the environment.
Direct drive – By designing around direct drive technology we have greatly reduced the number of moving parts and greatly increased long term reliability. Direct drive drastically reduces service and maintenance intervals resulting in reducing potential down time. Direct drive is also an average of 30% more efficient than conventional transmission and variable torque power generation.
Harmonic Damping – The Ocean Energy Turbine’s generator is designed to have one moving part that is precision balanced for the reduction of harmonic vibration. The absence of brushes, commutators, clutches, gears, and transmissions in the generator design allow the generator to produce maximum power without producing vibrations “noise” that could disturb the marine environment.
CrowdEnergy is in the process of filing a number of additional patents covering technologies that are unique to the Ocean Energy Turbine and its generator.
One of our biggest challenges is building awareness about how much energy is really available in the ocean. Most people can not visualize that there is more energy than we could ever use.
Another challenge is our location and facility. We are in Florida but we are not near the water. We are at our present location because it was donated to us. It is expensive to move prototypes and test equipment back and forth to the east coast of Florida. Hopefully if we exceed our goal we will have funds to move to a location adjacent to Florida Atlantic University and the Ocean.
One of the strange challenges we have encountered is all the negative feedback from people indirectly associated with the Fossil Fuel and Nuclear industry. It seems what we plan to do really bothers them… and we are ok with that
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