In the burgeoning offshore wind industry, growing particularly rapidly within the US, there’s opportunity aplenty for new technology. Quite a few existing Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) technologies as well as technologies in development have application in this field. Oceanus recently looked at some of the work being done in offshore wind by Anthony Kirincich, a physical oceanographer at WHOI as well as other WHOI researchers:
“Offshore wind in the U.S. is moving fast, but Kirincich feels it’s still early enough in the game for developers to leverage the tools and know-how that ocean scientists bring to the table.
‘Some of the traditional methods used in the offshore wind sector for measuring things like wind profiles and seabed strength tend to be antiquated and in need of advancement,’ said Kirincich. ‘In many cases, the tools and methods we use every day to study the ocean could help fill some of these gaps.’
Ultimately, he hopes all the ocean expertise that scientists can bring to bear can be rolled into a more formalized infrastructure he refers to as an Ocean Test Bed. The idea is to establish a place where scientists and developers can work together to test existing tools and techniques against new ones, and from there, determine which ones should be put into practice on the industry side.
‘We’re ocean scientists, not service providers,’ he said. ‘But we’re objective proof-of-concept people, and if you want to do something new or hard in the ocean, we’re one of the few institutions that can do that. If developers are open to working with us,’ he added, ‘we can help the industry accelerate the deployment of offshore wind to help meet our energy needs in a responsible and economically viable way.'”
Innovation Month kicked off with the 4th Annual WHOI Pitchathon. For the first time, this year’s event was open for public viewing. The event took place in Redfield Auditorium on October 5th, with a great turnout and four WHOI teams competing for Proof of Concept Funding. The ideas pitched this year ranged from autonomous systems to algal-derived cosmetic wax. It was a great showcase for the diversity of research and innovation taking place at WHOI.
The four teams requested a total of $300,000 in Proof of Concept Funding to advance their product towards commercialization, demonstrating the need for Proof of Concept Funding amongst the WHOI research community. Only able to award a max of $75k, the panel of judges selected Andy Billings and his Large Dynamic Range BLDC Electric Motor to receive the full award.
The Pitchathon will take place again next October. We will be launching a webpage soon with more information for applicants, information on previous winners, and updates on awarded projects. Check back in early 2019 for updates.
Did You Know? Each year WHOI Tech Transfer pairs Pitchathon applicants with Business Advisors to help in market research and perfecting their technology pitch. If you are an experienced entrepreneur or product development professional and interested in helping out by serving as a Business Advisor – please register here.
On October 10th, WHOI Tech Transfer collaborated with the Communications group to bring a special Innovation Edition of the Ocean Science Cafe to the local community. WHOI Senior Scientist Chris Reddy spoke at a sold-out event on the often winding path from research discovery to product with commercial potential.
Dr. Reddy was originally looking at alkenones from microalgae in order to create biofuels, discovering more recently they can be used to create a natural, vegan cosmetic wax for use in lipstick, sunscreen, and other personal care items. Dr. Reddy is now working with collaborators from Western Washington University and the Office for Technology Transfer to commercialize the wax.
The event was part of a series of Ocean Science Cafes intended to make science accessible to the community through casual events that encourage conversation, debate, and interaction between scientists and the public.
WHOI Tech Transfer kicked off it’s new Innovation & Entrepreneurship Seminar Series on October 18th with a talk by Dan Ward, owner of Ward Aquafarms. Ward discussed opportunities and the need for innovative technologies in the field of Aquaculture by highlighting specific challenges farms are currently facing. His talk touched on technology he’s currently developing, as well as two previously built apps he’s now worked into his daily workflow at the farm.
The audience included members of the local community, students, and WHOI staff. WHOI Tech Transfer will be announcing new seminars as they arise. The goal of the series is to make WHOI Innovators aware of opportunities for new technology in various industries as well as to address challenges and misconceptions related to entrepreneurship.
Innovation Month concluded with the annual Inventor Recognition Event on October 30th – recognizing the WHOIs most prolific inventors from the past year. Generously sponsored by an OTT Donor, inventors who have disclosed an idea, had a filed or issued patent, or have participated in the Tech Transfer process are invited for afternoon drinks and appetizers. We look forward to hosting this event each year, commending all WHOI Innovators for their contributions.
WHOI Innovation Month In The News:
WHOI To Host Marine Technology Pitchathon In October
On Wednesday, October 17, 2018 – the Compact Electric Winch was successfully tested and demonstrated before a group of industry professionals representing some of the largest marine winch manufacturers.
Both commercial and research marine operations rely on winches for deployment, hauling, and retrieval of equipment and instruments. Over the years, winch design has undergone extensive advancements in control systems while at the same time structural changes have been few and far between. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) engineers James Haley and Josh Eaton thought it time to incorporate mechanical advantage to build on the capabilities of innovative control systems.
“The WHOI Compact Winch is the most advanced portable winch design in the world,” says co-inventor James Haley.
Each component was designed and fabricated to serve multiple purposes with the goal of creating a smaller, lighter, and more compact winch, capable of outperforming its heavier and bulkier predecessors.
Currently available winches are customizable, however, they are typically built for a specific use and a particular tension member diameter and type. The WHOI Compact Winch was built for adaptability- capable of replacing any winch design currently in use- regardless of application. Because of the strength to weight ratio and the ability to spool any size tension member, users will have the ability to change diameters and tension member types on the fly, going from thread lay to open lay, either onsite or from a remote location.
The winch is designed to work in conjunction with a portable turntable- another WHOI innovation -eliminating the need for custom baseplates and allowing for flexibility in deck placement, movement, and application. While conventional winches are immobile once installed on deck, and require heavy equipment to turn or rotate, the WHOI Compact Winch is easily hand-rotated, a full 360 degrees, and locked into place quickly and easily with a lever positioned on the base.
The winch was built with utility in mind – creating a unit with much a smaller footprint and a higher strength to weight ratio. Featuring a frameless build, the winch motor is housed entirely within the winch drum allowing for a smaller on-deck footprint. With the open-air design of the drum- air flow is permitted and the motor is forced ventilated for cooling. Quick and easy maintenance is as simple as sliding the motor from the winch drum.
The structure of the winch was designed for manufacture with a slotted and tabbed design, utilizing readily available components, reducing the assembly and manufacturing process from a few weeks to a few days. Additionally, the design features a unique level wind system- capable of being rigged to avoid the constraints of the fleet angle. In addition to its many mechanical innovations, the winch also works in conjunction with an external control cabinet for use with multiple winches and to control numerous mechanical components.
The Compact Electric Winch was originally designed for moorings where high-strength, high-volume tension members must be accommodated but was designed with scalability in mind and is applicable to both marine and terrestrial applications, allowing for customization based on unique needs and challenges. The design is expected to be beneficial within the oil and gas industry- where power & strength is needed but space on rigs is limited, on marine vessels where many winches can now be replaced with one multi-purpose unit, and it could also be scaled down for use in non-marine applications.
The Compact Winch and Portable Turntable designs are currently protected under three pending patents.
Some of the items in your pantry and medicine cabinet may contain algae-derived ingredients. How they got there might not have been as straightforward as you’d imagine. Come hear of WHOI Marine Chemist Chris Reddy’s journey from tracking climate history written in ocean sediments to formulating green cosmetics, with a visit to biofuels in between. Learn a bit about the sometimes winding road from research findings to commercial products with impact.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. • Food and drinks available for purchase
For more information, contact email@example.com or 508-289-2252.
Pitch your product idea before a panel of judges for a chance to win up to 75k in Proof of Concept Funding. Participants have the opportunity to be paired with an experienced Business Advisor to help them evaluate the commercial potential of their technology. This opportunity is open to WHOI innovators only. Preliminary Application Forms/Intent to Apply forms are due July 2nd for this years Pitchathon Competition and proposals are due September 15th. Pitches will take place in October & be open to the public.
More details can be found on the Internal Funding website.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
WHOI OTT is looking for experienced Business Advisors to take part in this year’s Pitchathon competition. This annual event- now a part of Innovation Month – has grown immensely since it’s first year in 2015.
Each year, WHOI innovators are matched with a Business Advisor to craft a pitch for their technology over the course of two months. Applicants then make their pitch in October to a panel of judges in hopes of gaining Proof of Concept Funding to advance their project.
We were lucky last year to have a very talented group of Business Advisors volunteer their time- and as the number of applications increase- we are looking to expand the volunteer pool.
Interested in helping out? Here’s what we are looking for:
Although meetings will be arranged between the Business Advisor & Inventor, here are some key dates Business Advisors will need to be available to travel to WHOI:
To learn more about what we look for in our Business Advisors or to register, visit our Tech Mentors & Champions page and fill out the form here. If you have already previously registered via our site and are interested in participating this year, please email Allison Markova directly at email@example.com.
To learn more about the competition and previous winners- check out our annual report and previous newsletters on our News & Events page.