Can Harnessing Ships and Tides Beat Nuclear Power?

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Without a doubt, one of the challenges facing our world population is the need for sustainable energy sources. With the converging issues of pollution, dwindling fossil fuel supplies and a rising population, it’s high time we work on smart solutions. Now Nautical Torque Technologies is proposing a way of generating electricity that eliminates many of the problems with previous technologies and does it using a readily available energy source: docked ships and tides.

The long time dream of Cahill Maloney, Nautical Torque envisions ships at dock being tethered to shore-based beams and gearing mechanisms that would translate the daily tidal motion into surprisingly large amounts of electricity. By the team’s calculations, one container ship could produce 20 megawatts of electricity per hour, meaning 20 – 30 ships could generate as much as a small nuclear power plant: that’s enough energy to power half of San Francisco! Now the team is running an Indigogo campaign to raise funds for a proof of concept prototype, which Cahill’s son Galen explains in the video below.

Video and Animations created by Mello Ajello Media

What are the advantages of this creative idea over existing technologies?

  1. Tides are continuous and predictable.
    As Chaucer once noted, “Time and tide wait for no man.” Solar power produces much less power when it’s cloudy and none at all during the night; hydro power requires consistent rainfall for enough water; wind farms don’t receive consistent winds. Nautical Torque doesn’t have these issues. The mechanism can be geared for predictable and continuous operation throughout the day… and it’s powered by the force of the moon, which shouldn’t be going away any time soon.
  2. Neither submerged, offshore, or far from populated centers.
    Generating power from the motion of the sea isn’t a new idea, but the methods previously proposes often involved massive installations using new materials to produce good results. Often much work needed to be done on the sea floor, far from the coast; further raising costs to install the project and maintain it, while also disturbing potentially delicate ocean habitats. Inherently, this project has none of those problems.
  3. Scalable to local utility levels.
    As mentioned above, you can simple keep adding ships to the system to produce more power… and as anyone who has lived next to a seaport knows, there are always many ships waiting to be unloaded.

Although new and frequently used ships could be utilized in generating power, another potential source is the large amount of derelict ships waiting to be scrapped. Like the hulks of old, these unused vessels could be repurposed for other needs – in this case generating electricity – long after their useful sea going days are over.

How does Nautical Torque plan on getting their project realized? The team is currently looking to raise just $16,000 to produce a land locked proof of concept prototype. It will be used to produce evidence that the concept works, real working data and 3rd party verification of these facts. That’s a small investment for a potentially massive energy source.

Sadly project founder Cahill Maloney never saw his dream to completion. He was diagnosed in 2012 with late stage cancer and passed away just one month later. Now his son, Galen is working diligently to bring the project and his fathers last wish to fruition. Already they are in contact with the Port of Oakland, city of San Francisco and Port of Los Angeles, with interested parties looking to see the project go forward. With your help, it can.

Head to their campaign page on Indigogo to see more, and show your support for this important and exciting project.

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Project founder Cahill Maloney next to the ocean he saw creating so much free energy.
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