SpottedĀ®: Ocean Innovators Win $100,000 Prizes

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Published: 9/22 7:05 am | Updated: 9/22 7:24 am
A robotic sailboat inspired by frustrated clean-up efforts after the Gulf oil spill and a system that emulsifies fuels with water to drastically reduce the soot emitted by ships, trucks and industrial boilers are each the winners of a $100,000 prize announced Friday at the Savannah Ocean Exchange.

Click here to view photos from the Ocean Awards Gala

Protei: Ocean Cleaning Sailing Robots won the prize sponsored by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

"We're dedicated to asking how to solve the question of oil, plastics and radioactivity on the water," said Gabriella Levine in her presentation before the review panel.

Their answer so far is what she calls an "accelerated evolution of sailing technology." It's an articulated sailboat without a rudder or centerboard that can shift its shape enabling it to bend and catch the wind from both sides and to tow long, heavy equipment. Created in part by an online community of collaborators, the project is one of open source hardware. The creators want to get it quickly into the hands of people who can use it.

"Everyone is free to use, modify and distribute our technology," Levine said. "We ask that they credit back our name and if any new innovations are made that they share improvements with the community."

She pledged to use part of the grant money to increase its surveillance of radioactivity in the waters near the failed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.

This solution was chosen because it best reflects the goals of The Gulfstream Navigator Award: Applicability across multiple industries to generate a positive impact on the economy and the environment.

"They demonstrated what can be done when diverse groups work together," said Joe Lombardo, executive vice president, Aerospace Group, General Dynamics, parent company of Gulfstream Aerospace in a prepared statement.

The second award, the Orcelle Grant sponsored by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics of Norway for advancing a shipping and logistics solution for increased sustainability through lowered emissions, went to Nonox: Emulsion Combustion Systems.

Nonox's system emulsifies water and fuel to increase the surface area of the fuel and allow it to burn more completely.

"A good analogy is you can't take a big log and light it and expect it to start," Pence said in his presentation to the judging panel. "But you can take that log and cut it into small kindling and it'll ignite much easier."

Since soot is the result of unburned fuel, these emissions are reduced by more than 50 percent with the Nonox system, Pence said. Plus the system pays for itself in fuel savings. It can be retrofitted onto existing ships, trucks and boilers.

"The Nonox Emulsion Combustion System is an innovative solution that can decrease emissions of harmful substances to the air considerably, both at sea and on land," said Christopher Connor, Deputy CEO and CCO of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics of Norway in a prepared statement. "The team has done an impressive job in developing this promising technology. We hope that the Orcelle Grant will make it possible for them to bring this product to market, and look forward to supporting the laureate on this journey."
By Mary Landers