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November 4, 2011

Zyvex Technologies Launches Maritime Division
Zyvex Technologies (Columbus, Ohio) has launched a division in Seattle, Washington, that will design and build vessels using lightweight nanotube-enhanced carbon fiber material, the company announced Friday.

The division, Zyvex Marine, said it shipped its first production vessel this month and would be developing two new maritime platforms being unveiled later this year.

The company built its first prototype craft, the 54-foot Piranha USV, in 2010. One of the benefits of using the lightweight nano-composite material is a claimed 75 percent reduction in fuel consumption: At 24 knots, the $2 million Piranha consumes 12 gallons of fuel per hour, contrasting to the 50 gallons per hour a traditional boat would consume, Zyvex said.

"We've proven our technology delivers results, and now we've proven we can successfully deliver those results into commercial scale production at Zyvex Marine," said Lance Criscuolo, president of Zyvex Technologies. "The Piranha is not only tough and capable, it is super efficient. Better materials make awesome products."

Gulf of Mexico, East Coast Ports
Less Protected From Invasive Species, Study Finds

Open-ocean exchanges, the process in which large vessels swap out ballast water at least 200 nautical miles from land to prevent invasive species, is not equally effective across coasts, according to a recent study. Ecologists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) have found that ports on the U.S. East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico are significantly less protected than ports on the U.S. West Coast.

Whitman Miller and a team of scientists from SERC looked at all international ships entering the contiguous U.S. over three years. Published Friday in the journal BioScience, the study analyzed approximately 105,000 vessel reports from January 2005 to December 2007. While most ships opted not to discharge their ballast water at all, a substantial number continued to dump unexchanged or improperly exchanged water into their ports of entry, the study said.

Not all coasts are affected equally. The Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast received much larger fractions of unexchanged ballast water than the West Coast. Roughly 5 percent of the ballast water discharged on the West Coast had not undergone open-ocean exchange. By contrast 21 percent of the discharged water in the Gulf and 23 percent on the East Coast went unexchanged.

Much of the problem comes down to simple geography. Depending on a ship's transit route, it may not have the time or space to conduct open-ocean exchange. A mere 24 percent of the ballast water discharged by ships journeying to U.S. ports along coastal routes, from Central or South America, for example, underwent open-ocean exchange, the study found.

In contrast, 91 percent of ballast water discharge by transoceanic shipping was exchanged in the open ocean, where ships have more opportunities to manage their water properly. Because so many of their incoming ships do not pass through the open ocean, ports in the Gulf and East Coast receive more potentially harmful water.

The vast discrepancies point to the need for another solution, ecologists say. If ships could treat their ballast water on board without having to journey to the open ocean, every coast would be safer.

"The Gulf of Mexico coast receives more overseas ballast water discharge than the East or West coasts, and most of this water is either unexchanged or exchanged inside coastal waters," Miller said. "Given the geographic constraints of shipping, and the complexity of the invasion process, it is clear that we need to move to onboard ballast water treatment technologies that will allow ships to operate anywhere in the world without fear of releasing harmful invasive species."

Source: SERC press release

Sonardyne Launches Wideband Sub-Mini 6
Sonardyne International Ltd. (Yateley, England) launched on Monday the Wideband Sub Mini 6 (WSM6), the sixth-generation version of its best-selling ultrashort baseline acoustic positioning transponder.

As part of the update, WSM6 now supports the the company's Wideband 2 signal architecture, offering superior ranging accuracy, operation in a multiuser, multivessel environments and USBL position updates of up to 1 hertz.

The device, available in 1,000 and 4,000 meter depth ratings, is designed for positioning ROVs, towfish and other mobile targets. The new transponder is available in MF directional and MF omnidirectional versions to suit a wide range of operational scenarios. It is powered by a nickel metal hydride battery or via an ROV's umbilical.

To offer flexibility with existing hardware, WSM6 supports the original Wideband 1 scheme, Sonardyne tone and HPR300 and HPR400 channels. The quickset channels feature is retained and extended to include Wideband 2 signals.

BSEE Grants Extensions to 97 Percent
Of Moratorium-Affected Deepwater Leases

The Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcment (BSEE) approved 1,381 deepwater oil and gas extension requests in the Gulf of Mexico, the bureau announced Monday, about 97 percent of the requests it received.

Deepwater oil and gas leases interrupted in 2010 by the Deepwater Horizon drilling moratorium were allowed to apply for extensions, with a notice to lessees going out in June.

Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), called the approval "welcome news," but said the association would continue to raise the issue of shallow-water lease holders who have seen similar impacts, but were not allowed to file for extensions.

"Due to industry-led initiatives to increase safety standards, response capability and containment ability, NOIA members are ready to safely increase exploration and production activities which will add new jobs, new energy, and new revenues to the federal treasury," Luthi said. "We commend BSEE for taking steps to give companies a chance to recover from the moratorium."

Coalition Unveils Roadmap for MHK Technolology
Setting the goal of developing 15 gigawatts of grid-connected marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy by 2030, a coalition of companies this week published a technology roadmap describing the issues, challenges and opportunities facing the MHK industry in the United States.

The Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition unveiled Tuesday the first U.S. MHK Technical Roadmap. The group said in its executive summary that it developed the roadmap to help guide government investment in the sector and to prompt the "needed reforms" to regulatory framework. The U.S. government has invested more than $50 million into MHK since 2008, OREC President Sean O'Neill said.

The roadmap estimates that 15 gigawatts of installed capacity by 2030 would support the creation of 36,000 jobs. It outlines three phases in the pathway to commercialization, beginning with pilot projects in open-water settings and transitioning to MHK arrays in energetic locations by 2015. The final phase, the transition to 100-megawatt utility-scale arrays, would require that devices be made cost-effective, reliable and efficient with minimal maintenance cycles.

The goals of the group extend beyond installed capacity. The coalition wants the U.S. to have a commercially viable MHK renewable energy industry, supported by a robust supply chain.

The United States is trailing behind many other nationals in developing its marine renewable energy industry. Bob Thresher, of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, noted that countries in Europe produced roadmaps as much as 10 years ago. "The U.S. roadmap is a critical step forward in the domestic commercialization of these technologies," Thresher said in a statement.

The group's Canadian counterpart, the Ocean Renewable Energy Group, announced its own industry roadmap Tuesday at its annual conference in Montreal, Canada.

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