Weekly Tech Roundup | Jul 6, 2018

Weekly tech roundup: improved mooring cleat, energy harvesting system using fluid flow (and more)

TechLink’s purpose is to help businesses and entrepreneurs across America gain access to Department of Defense inventions so they can turn ideas into new products and services.

Our expert technology managers evaluate inventions for commercial success, and they have identified this week’s six featured technologies as some of our hottest opportunities.

The lineup includes a novel mooring cleat that features an open design and a system that harnesses fluid flow to induce vibrations that are converted to electrical energy.

Here is the full roundup:

Improved mooring cleat

Mooring cleats are mounted on docks and boats and are used to secure a boat by wrapping a line around the cleat several times, often in a figure 8 pattern. Cleats tend to be used in conjunction with chocks in tethering a boat. Chocks are feed-through devices – either closed or open rings – that direct the line to the cleat so that the line is attached from a specific direction. This combination creates a more secure mooring. The keys to securing a ship are to do it safely and quickly and with minimal chance of the boat going adrift.

Current designs require a significant number of rope loops around the cleat as well as a knot to secure the loose end. The activity of securing a boat is thus more time consuming and potentially dangerous in the presence of waves or when securing a larger ship.

Navy scientists and engineers have developed a new cleat which allows for fast attachment of a line without the need to feed it through a cleat or chock and without the need to knot the end. The open design has an overlapping horn with an angled slot that allows a line to be dropped into the fitting at any desired position and restrains the line against pull in any direction.

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Energy harvesting system using flow-induced vibrations

Renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, and waves have been long sought after. Improved harvesting systems for these sources are continually being developed, and are especially favored for ocean-based environments.

Renewable sources of energy such as geothermal, sediment, or ocean current conditions must be utilized in submerged devices, where surface-based devices are not applicable. These methods leave a need for a dependable and compact system to provide a renewable power source for underwater systems.

This system, developed by the Navy, harnesses fluid flow to induce vibrations that are converted to electrical energy. There may be applications in any location with water-based or air-based fluid flow, and in particular as renewable power for underwater systems and sensors.

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Determining seafloor density

Physical models of seafloor density, sound speed, thermal conductivity, electrical resistivity, and other properties depend significantly on porosity (or void fraction – a measure of the empty spaces in a material). Porosity estimates can be used to determine numerous sediment geophysical parameters and implement existing models, such as sediment physics models, thermal property models, permeability models, and resistivity models, which can be combined to create an extensive physical model of the sediment.

Navy researchers have developed more sophisticated sediment models in which porosity is determined for each sediment layer in a column based on historical data or direct measurement.

These sediment models can be used for a variety of purposes such as environmental studies, engineering studies, or hydrocarbon exploration. For example, the sediment models can be used to improve acoustic sonar measurements of the seafloor, which are used to generate a 3-D map of seafloor strength and consolidation state, important for managing hazards and safety in seabed operations and seafloor construction (offshore wind farms, moorings, undersea cables, and pipelines).

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Health monitoring of the environment inside containers

Technical advancements such as miniaturization and lower detection levels in sensor technology combined with decreasing telecommunications costs are creating new opportunities in the remote monitoring space. At the same time, globalization and logistics are combining to increase the amount of goods that are shipped, stored, relocated and stored again prior to final distribution or use.

And, while prices and technology are making all of this feasible, the long-distance and long-term shipping and storage of goods creates a greater need to ensure that those goods are handled correctly.

Navy scientists and engineers have developed an integrated, multi-factor system to monitor conditions inside containers. Variables including temperature, humidity, vibration, shock, strain, pressure, chemical and liquid presence, tamper indication, and radiation are all monitored through this system.

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Target imaging and ranging in turbid medium

Remotely operated vehicles (ROV) – including underwater, terrestrial, or aerial – typically use cameras for high-resolution imaging. Cameras are effective in clear environments but perform poorly in murky water, dust, and fog. This is due to the scattering of the light by particulate and organic matter in the operating environment.

Laser-based sensors have been developed to enhance optical imaging, but conventional approaches require that the laser and receiver be located on the same platform. This requirement is not compatible with some weight restrictions.

Navy researchers have developed a low-cost optical imager utilizing a bistatic geometry – in other words, the laser and receiver are decoupled. An imaging laser beam is steered with a MEMS scanner to sequentially illuminate an object. A distant receiver collects the reflected laser light and reconstructs the image. Communications information, including a synchronization sequence, is encoded onto the modulation which is then used by the receiver to build the image.

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Headshot Image of Austin Leach, PhD, CLP

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