|20080219768||Foundation Watering System||September, 2008||Sanchez|
|20050254901||Offshore oil transportation system||November, 2005||Lovie|
|20100008731||PIPE PRODUCING APPARATUS AND EXISTING PIPE REHABILITATING METHOD EMPLOYING THE SAME||January, 2010||Kakine et al.|
|20090304456||TWO STAGE MECHANICALLY STABILIZED EARTH WALL SYSTEM||December, 2009||Taylor et al.|
|20090169307||METHOD OF PREPARING A FOUNDATION STRUCTURE||July, 2009||Pidgeon|
|20080267719||Towed compaction determination system utilizing drawbar force||October, 2008||Corcoran|
|20030147703||Tension leg platform having modified wave response characteristics||August, 2003||Cermelli et al.|
|20080296900||SPILLWAY HYDROELECTRIC TURBINE||December, 2008||Lederer et al.|
|20100074690||SYSTEMS FOR THE SUBTERRANEAN SUPPORT OF UNDERGROUND CONDUITS||March, 2010||Jinnings et al.|
|20080226393||Irrigation & Drainage Pipe||September, 2008||Leun|
|20060045627||Diagrams for collection of gas from ventures from the sea's bottom||March, 2006||Baciu|
 1. Field of the Invention
 This invention relates directly to the use of gravity and hydraulic forces to save fresh water, specifically at the Panama Canal, at the time vessels are lowered or raised in the Canal locks chambers.
 2. Description of Related Art
 Heretofore, ships transiting the Panama Canal have been raised and lowered
 Ownership of the Panama Canal was transferred by the United States government on Dec. 31, 1999, to the Republic of Panama. The Panama Canal Authority, an agency of the government of the Republic of Panama, now operates the Canal. The Panama Canal Authority currently faces a serious loss of revenue due to newer ships being built larger than the so-called Panamax size vessels, the largest ships that can transit the Panama Canal locks. The transit of these larger ships will require the construction of larger locks. The Canal administration is considering the construction of a “Third Locks” system that would facilitate post-Panamax vessels, but would also require more water than can be supplied by the existing system, a system that even now at times does not adequately supply the Canal's needs. To augment the existing water storage capacity requires the construction of a multimillion-dollar project consisting of various lakes, dams, tunnels and power stations for watershed development together with the removal of some eight thousand farmers from their land, which will be used as a water storage reservoir (lake). The need exists, therefore, for the design and construction of a new water-saving, ship-lift system, with larger chambers capable of facilitating post-Panamax vessels that will operate with efficiency and safety while, at the same time, conserving water.
 The locks chambers as known today were invented by Chhio Wei-yo in the year 983 for China's Grand Canal. Later, the Dutch (1065), Flemish (1116) and Italians (1198) began building canals with single locks. The present invention completes the locks operation as an integral part of the locks system.
 Several countries have designed water-saving and ship-lift systems. The first twin ship lift system using a counterweight is the Tardebrigge built by England at the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. The first lock to use a water-saving system was the Henrichenburg Float Lift built between 1908 and 1917 by the Federal Republic of Germany. The basins were located at each side of the locks for partial storage. One basin was used to fill the chambers and the other basin to receive water from the chambers. The basins could be opened at the top or closed at different levels, depending on the depth of chamber needed. Other water-saving locks developed in the Federal Republic of Germany are the Niederfinow (1934), a ship lift with counterweight, and the Uelsen. In these locks, the transit of a ship is achieved using vertical and horizontal inclines and water-slope lifts. The lifts are done both dry and wet. The latter three types of lifts described are used for low ship tonnage; however, a longitudinal slope 1:10 lift developed in Russia at Kranotarsk (1985) on the Jenissej Canal obtained a maximum ship lift of 101.0 meters and a 1,500 ton capacity.
 There are a myriad of problems with the previous water saving and ship-lift systems developed in Europe (Germany and Belgium) when applied to the Panama Canal situation. These water-saving basins are only about 50 percent efficient. The ship lifts of this type are also very costly to build and do not have the capacity to handle ships of the Panamax or post-Panamax size. Safety has also posed a problem in systems using a counterweight or flotation devices to elevate ships to rather high altitudes in the open basins, and the counterweight and flotation devices would require high maintenance in the Panama environment. Thus, these systems do not fulfill the needs of the present Panama Canal or a Third Locks.
 The development of a new locks system would be extremely beneficial because it would prevent the loss of 52 million gallons of fresh water for each ship transiting the Panama Canal. The cost of development of a new system of this type could be offset by the production and sale of hydroelectric power produced by the water saved by the use of this system. Any loss of revenue due to draft reduction for vessels transiting during times of dry season water shortage would no longer occur.
 3. Summary of the Invention
 This invention is a process for raising or lowering ships from one elevation to another within a lock chamber and simultaneously recycling the water using a hydraulic storage tank. It represents innovative design technology that can be applied to ship canals, including the current Panama Canal and any contemplated larger Third Locks construction. The hydraulic storage tank is located adjacent to the lock chamber and below the minimum level to which the ship is to be lowered within the locks structures. The hydraulically pressurized water storage tank system fills the lock chamber and raises the ship. The ship is lowered in the lock chamber by water flowing by gravity back into the empty water storage tank. The water flow is directed by an energy system that applies hydraulic power, compressed air or any other device that is capable of moving a stainless steel plate acting as a piston or similar device inside the storage tank. The energy system directs the flow of water from the storage tank to the lock chamber to raise the water level. The storage tank will be divided into multiple cells (or multiple chambers) that are pressurized evenly and simultaneously. Water from each cell will be directed to specific areas of the lock chamber to provide an even flow, thus ensuring the stability of the vessel in the chamber. The empty hydraulic storage tank will then receive the flow of water from the lock chamber by gravity through the same pipe system when a ship is lowered. This system produces a safe and efficient vertical movement of the ships, while recycling the water with little or no waste.
 Previously developed ship-lift systems were costly to build and maintain in Panama's tropical environment. These ship lifts are also dangerous because they require the ships to be raised to unsafe elevations. The size of vessels these lifts could transit was also limited.
 It is an objective of the invention to permit close control of the water flow rate into the locks chambers to provide for expeditious transit of ships through the locks. Hydraulic power, or other energy system, is used to move a stainless steel plate piston inside the storage tank (or tanks), thereby closely regulating the desired flow rate of the water into the locks chamber producing the safe and efficient vertical movement of a ship. A water level sensor could be used to indicate when the proper water level has been reached. The energy system and water level sensor would, in turn, be closely monitored and regulated by the control system.
 It is an objective of the invention to economize on the 52 million gallons of fresh water currently lost to the sea for each Panama Canal vessel transit. Unlike water-saving basins of prior locks system designs, which were very inefficient, this new system preserves and stores the fresh water and recycles it with little or no waste.
 It is an objective of the invention to protect the ecology and preserve good agricultural land for farming rather than having it lost to a lake storage basin. The implementation of this system would permit farmers to continue to use their productive land, avoiding the possible necessity of purchasing commodities from other countries. Mass migration of the farm population to the cities would be avoided, together with its concomitant impact on city economies and services.
 It is an objective of the invention to free a new generation of Panamanians from having to pay a large and unnecessary debt. The cost of augmenting the existing water storage capacity by current means requires the construction of a complex, multimillion-dollar project. The cost of development for this newly invented system, however, could be offset by the production and sale of hydroelectric power generated by the millions of gallons of saved water. The system would also alleviate the current possibility of reduction in revenue for or from transiting vessels during periods of water shortage, i.e., Panama's dry season.
 FIG. is a cross-section of a lock chamber illustrating the ship-lowering process of emptying the locks by the gravitational flow of water into the water-saving hydraulic tanks.
 The essence of this invention is not a storage tank per se, but the utilization of the hydraulic water-storage tank system to fill and empty a canal locks chamber. The water for transiting vessels is held in large, pressurized storage tanks. When a lock chamber needs to be filled to raise a ship, the water is moved from the storage tank to the locks chamber using hydraulic power, compressed air or any other device, to raise the water level in the locks chamber to, in turn, raise the ship. When the ship is lowered in the chamber, the water flows by gravitational force back into the storage tank to be used for the next ship transit. This dual process recycles the water with minimum or no waste.
 The type of storage tanks suggested by current technologies are reinforced concrete tanks lined with stainless steel, or any other material that can withstand the hydraulic pressures and longevity in an adverse setting.
 Water saving basins previoulsy built in Germany use gravitational flow to fill and empty the locks chamber, achieving only 50% efficiency compared to the substantially 100% efficiency proposed in this invention.
 The inflow and outflow of water to and from the locks chambers is regulated with a great precision by the energy system
 The empting operation of this invention consists of a modular water saving hydraulic storage tank or tanks to be located below the minimum water level draw-down or ship draft, to store the total water discharge by gravity from the locks chamber. The water filling operation is the modular concept of this invention. Reversing the water emptying process, the water stored in hydraulic tanks is pressurized or forced to flow though the different pipelines and culverts from all the tanks modules in a synchronized and simultaneously way to the locks chamber which neutralize the hydraulic forces against the ship. The operating control system can regulate how fast the ships can be raised. It is estimated that this recycling process will save the 52 million gallons of water or any volume deemed necessary to build a mega locks system.
 The control system, employing a computer program or programmable logic, will also regulate with an extreme accuracy the magnetic system that controls the ship movement in the centerline of locks chamber. The magnetic system eliminates the need for lock towing locomotives or rail tow track they run on, thus saving the millions of dollars previously spent on these items. The magnet system could be compare to a conveyor belt that moves ships smoothly, safely and efficiently thereby increasing Panama Canal capacity and safety.
 While this invention has been shown and described with reference to a preferred design, it will be understood by those of skill in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.