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Friday, November 17, 2006

New technology harnesses ocean energy from gulf

Florida Atlantic University has been selected by the Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board to receive $5 million to establish The Florida Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology.

The Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology will address Florida’s energy crisis by looking at South Florida’s ocean currents, specifically the Gulf Stream (the most energy dense ocean current), as an abundant renewable energy source to meet not just Florida’s power needs but also the world’s power needs. As one of the fastest growing states, Florida’s electricity consumption is estimated to increase by nearly 30 percent over the next 10 years. In-state energy production is less than one percent of consumption, leaving the state heavily reliant on imported sources of energy.

Each of the centers of excellence will be funded with money appropriated by the Florida Legislature under the 21st Century Technology, Research and Enhancement Act. The Florida Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida met on Thursday to review and approve the recommendations of the Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board.

“This funding will lead to the establishment of a world-class center that will revolutionize future energy production on our planet,” said Dr. Larry F. Lemanski, vice president for research at FAU and principal offeror of FAU’s new center of excellence. “We are very excited about developing these innovative, energy-producing technologies, and we have put together a strong partnership base composed of industrial, academic and government partners to accomplish our goals and mission for our new center of excellence.”

FAU will work with the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Florida Power & Light, Ocean Renewable Power, Lockheed Martin, Clipper Windpower, Oceaneering, Aquantis, the University of Central Florida, Nova Southeastern University and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in establishing the center.

“Our Florida Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology will be a synergistic partnership utilizing our combined ocean engineering expertise to foster the research, design, development, implementation, testing and commercialization of cutting-edge ocean energies that are cost-competitive with existing power technologies such as fossil-fuel-based power generation,” said Dr. Rick Driscoll, associate professor in FAU’s department of ocean engineering and co-principal technical personnel for the project. “This new industry will provide a clean, reliable, and renewable source of energy that can be used to generate electricity, unlimited hydrogen and potable water, as well as provide alternative methods for residential cooling or A/C.” Driscoll will co-lead the project with Dr. Manhar Dhanak, professor and chair of the department of ocean engineering at FAU and co-principal technical personnel for the project.

“To harness ocean energy for power is a laudable goal for any ocean engineer,” said Dhanak. “This is a really exciting opportunity for our department.”

The Florida Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology will be housed at FAU’s SeaTech—Institute for Oceans & Systems Engineering in Dania Beach, Florida. The Institute is part of FAU’s Department of Ocean Engineering, located within the College of Engineering & Computer Science.

About FAU’s SeaTech – Institute for Ocean Systems Engineering

Florida Atlantic University’s SeaTech provides easy access to the ocean and is located on eight acres between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal water-way in Dania Beach. Established in 1997, the Institute is part of FAU’s Department of Ocean Engineering, which includes 11 world-class faculty members, 27 engineers and technicians, and 40 graduate students who are engaged in federal and industry sponsored ocean engineering research and technology development in the areas of acoustics, marine vehicles, hydrodynamics and physical oceanography, marine materials and nano-composites. The Institute builds on and complements the academic programs of FAU’s Department of Ocean Engineering and provides the means for technology advancement, collaboration with academia, industry and government, and the commercialization of research products to applications. The Institute has received federal funding for research and development in the areas of durability of composite materials, coastline security technology, harnessing ocean energy, a program under a national naval responsibility initiative for training and development of a new generation of workforce for naval laboratories, and most recently for seabasing.

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