Title:
Artificial islands and method of forming
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A structure and method for building offshore, artificial islands employs modular, preformed elongated box members which are built ashore and transported by marine vessel to deepwater, offshore sites. They are sunk into position to form artificial island perimeters of various configurations of choice. The water within the space formed by the perimeter walls is pumped out and filled with stone, dredge spoils, rip-rap, and other solid materials at high rates of speed and relatively low cost by specially modified vessels. A variety of offshore facilities, including nuclear power plants, LNG terminals, and deep water container stations, can be constructed on the islands.



Inventors:
Stewart, William (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/810563
Publication Date:
12/11/2008
Filing Date:
06/06/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02D29/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MAYO-PINNOCK, TARA LEIGH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ricci Tyrrell Johnson & Grey, PLLC (Marlton, NJ, US)
Claims:
1. An artificial island positioned on the subsurface floor of the body of water, said island comprising: an outer perimeter wall circumscribing the island and forming an inner space, said wall comprising a series of preformed, adjacently aligned elongated box members with internal chambers, each said box member comprising curved side surfaces shaped to engage and mate with the curved side surfaces of adjacent box members, and outwardly extending foot elements for placement on the subsurface floor, said box members being positionable adjacent to each other on the subsurface floor to form a plurality of different outer perimeter wall configurations; and a solid material substantially filling the inner space formed by the outer perimeter wall.

2. The artificial island as in claim 1 wherein the internal chambers comprise void spaces to provide lightning and buoyancy.

3. The artificial island as in claim 1 wherein one curved surface of a box member comprises a convex surface and the adjacent curved surface comprises a corresponding mating concave surface at the area of engagement and mating between adjacent box members.

4. The method of forming an artificial island on the subsurface floor of a body of water comprising the steps of: placing a plurality of preformed box members with internal chambers, exterior front and rear surfaces, and curved side surfaces, on a marine vessel; transporting the box members on the vessel to a designated location in the body of water; discharging the box members from the vessel into the water; sinking the box members; positioning the box members on the subsurface floor; aligning the box members such that their curved surfaces are adjacent to each other, forming an enclosed outer perimeter wall and an inner space within the perimeter wall by aligning the box members adjacent to each other; removing water from within the inner space; and filling the inner space with solid material.

5. The method of forming an artificial island as in claim 4 comprising the additional steps of providing solid material along the exterior front and rear surfaces of the box members for stabilizing the box members on the subsurface floor.

6. The method of forming an artificial island as in claim 4 comprising the additional step of building structures on the solid material within the inner space.

7. The method of forming an artificial island as in claim 4 wherein each box member comprises one curved side surface and one convex side surface, such that when the box members are aligned adjacent to each other, a curved convex side surface of one box member is engaged and mated with a curved convex side surface of the adjacent box member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many people around the world feel that, in today's industrialized society, the continued use of coal, natural gas and especially petroleum based products has created and will continue to create a variety of serious, global problems. For instance, there is widespread belief that the production of atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by these fuels, if allowed to continue unabated, could eventually cause catastrophic climate changes. Additionally, the production of crude oil and petroleum products is controlled by the OPEC cartel which imposes monopoly pricing on consuming nations, causing serious economic damage to consumers, particularly poor consumers. The windfall profits to the cartel members, many of whom are openly hostile to the United States, are often used against U.S. interests.

As a result, it is critical that coal, natural gas and petroleum based products are supplemented and ultimately replaced with alternative, low-cost sources of energy which do not produce carbon dioxide emissions and which are not controlled by foreign forces.

A viable option is to increase the use of nuclear generated power. Low cost nuclear generated electricity could take over heating of commercial and residential buildings and replace much of the oil used by industry. However, one of the problems of nuclear power is that it is “base-load”, and plants must be run flat out. But electricity demand fluctuates widely and expensive natural gas and oil are used for “peaking” power. By producing enough nuclear power to cover peak demand, and using the excess during periods of low demand for the production of hydrogen by hydrolysis of water or newer methods, a hydrogen based economy could rapidly develop. Vast amounts of oxygen would be produced and be available at minimal cost for industry. Oxygen could be used, for example, in stationary engines to eliminate nitric oxide (oxides of nitrogen) production.

A big cost savings would be achieved by replacing a large portion of the oil used in transportation with hydrogen produced by nuclear electric power and by electricity directly. Plug-in hybrid vehicles could be charged at night with the low cost electricity. This would require much less petroleum, with an accompanied lower average cost per mile for fuel (electricity and petroleum). Vehicles used as “station cars” around town would seldom need gasoline or diesel at all.

Another consideration is that once the very low cost electricity and hydrogen are produced, the storage and conversion to mechanical energy for transportation becomes highly efficient, with efficiencies above 90%. This is contrasted with the relatively low efficiency of the direct conversion of gasoline to mechanical energy, which is only about 33%. The most thermally efficient internal combustion engine is now about 50% (large marine engines burning heavy fuel), but small engines with lower pressures and temperatures are much less thermally efficient. Nuclear or coal fired power plants are only about 40% thermally efficient, but the electricity produced is so cheap, and combined with its efficiency of storage and conversion back to mechanical energy, the actual energy reaching the wheels of the vehicles is far cheaper than burning gasoline or diesel fuel in an internal combustion engine.

There is a place for traditional “renewables” of hydropower (already mostly exploited), e.g. wind, solar, biomass and biofuels, as long as prices for their production come down. But it is wrong to insist on technologies that have excessive capital costs, as such costs result in too much money being spent for a low output of energy.

The use of nuclear energy is most desirable; however, placement for the construction of new nuclear facilities is very difficult. Despite the almost universal wish to produce cheap energy without “greenhouse” gases, and the desire to move toward a carbon-free, non-polluting hydrogen economy, the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) mentality abounds. Many other industrial projects which are critically needed are not being built, since the general public rejects them, due to perceived or actual hazards. It is significant that not one oil refinery has been built since 1976, necessitating the importation of large amounts of refined products. It is generally accepted that such facilities are needed, but “Not In My Backyard”.

If artificial islands could be built cheaply enough, just outside the three mile limit, locating the facilities on the islands would solve the NIMBY problem. This is a solution only for high capital, low labor industries, since transporting people to and from work will be expensive. Such islands, by their very nature, would be secure, as entry (by ferry boat and supply ship) would be tightly controlled. A security perimeter with submarine netting could be built if desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is thus the object of the present invention to provide a new structure and methodology for building offshore, artificial islands relatively inexpensively, for the placement of nuclear and other NIMBY facilities. The islands consist of modular, preformed, elongated box members which are built ashore and transported by specially designed vessels to deepwater, offshore sites. They are sunk into position to form artificial island perimeters of various configurations of choice. The water within the space formed by the perimeter walls is pumped out and filled with stone, dredge spoils, rip-rap, and other solid materials at high rates of speed and relatively low cost by specially modified vessels.

These islands can be developed at costs much lower than using old construction methods. They can be built modular and expandable as new demand arises for this desirable space. They would be designed to be safe from tsunamis, hurricanes and the like. Such islands, located in the ocean, will also allow for easy sequestration of any carbon dioxide gas produced from industrial processes by pumping the gas into the cold seawater where it would immediately dissolve. Instead of being a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide would be food for algae and other plants on the bottom of the food chain, and eventually food for over-fished stocks. While the islands are being constructed, facilities such as underwater reefs friendly to sea creatures could be built at low cost.

The artificial islands of the present invention could serve many uses, other than as a platform for nuclear power. For example, they could be used for waste processing and waste-to-energy facilities, alternate electrical power generation using coal or petroleum coke, chemical production facilities, cement plants, LNG terminals, oil or other fuels storage facilities, deepwater container terminals, and offshore USCG/SAR facilities.

The artificial islands and its specific facilities can be built relatively cheaply to produce clean, carbon free, inexpensive energy. The anticipated cost for a typical 1 quad island facility (121,000 megawatt units) would be well under $1.0 billion, including pipelines and electrical lines ashore. This initial expense ultimately will be extremely cost effective, and billions of dollars will be saved as shore-based mass production units will drastically drop construction costs.

The trillions of dollars of capital investment which will be made, the millions of new jobs which will be created, and the cheap energy produced would be of tremendous benefit to the economy, provide security from unreliable suppliers of petroleum, and eliminate greenhouse gases. It is contemplated, of course, that this is not a short term program, but rather at least a fifty year project to build a chain of artificial islands with nuclear power plants and other industrial facilities. As the nuclear plants come on line, the older, polluting plants will be shut down, and new coal, oil and gas fired plants will no longer be built. The goal is that by the end of the twenty-first century, there will be no reliance on carbon based fuels.

Nonetheless, with the demand for pollution free nuclear power ramping up, eventually demand will outstrip the supply of uranium and, in the future, more exotic nuclear plants, such as fast breeder reactors and eventually fusion plants will have to be built. These plants will not be allowed ashore in the heavily populated areas, along the coasts where the energy is needed, so NIMBY islands are the only possible places to site them as well. The islands will never become obsolete.

The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The invention, itself, however, both as to its design, construction and use, together with additional features and advantages thereof, are best understood upon review of the following detailed description with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of one of the preformed box members of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a representation of the manner in which the preformed box members of the present invention may be transported by marine vessel.

FIG. 3 is a representation of the manner in which the preformed box members of the present invention may be off-loaded from a vessel, into a body of water.

FIG. 4 shows the placement of the preformed box member of the present invention on the subsurface floor of a body of water.

FIG. 5 shows the elements of the artificial island of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a section view taken from FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is an isolated view of an exterior region of the artificial island of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Artificial island 1 of the present invention comprises outer perimeter wall 2 made up of individual preformed box members 4 configured to be linking pieces of perimeter wall 2. Each box member 4 is preformed, pre-stressed concrete and has an elongated upper section 6 and outwardly extending foot element 8 for placement on the subsurface floor of a body of water. Internal chambers 10 and 12 form void spaces which extend through box member 4 to provide some lightening/buoyancy to the structure. Wave/current diffusers 17 are provided on exterior front surface 18 of box members 4.

It is contemplated that foot elements 8 of each box member 4 will be approximately 50 feet in width and the box member itself will be approximately 130 feet in height so as to extend approximately thirty feet over the water's surface, when placed on the subsurface floor. It is noted that these dimensions are only representative and the scope of the invention is not to be considered so restricted. However, it is important that box member 4 extend at least thirty feet above the waterline.

Side surfaces 14 and 16 of box member 4 are uniquely designed to engage and mate with an adjacently positioned box member. Side surface 14 is of concave configuration and side surface 16 is of convex configuration. Concave side surface 14 of one box member 4 is thus specifically configured to fit snugly within convex surface 16 of the adjacent box member 4. Outer perimeter wall 2 is formed by a series of box members 4 being positioned adjacent to each other in a desired configuration. This novel manner of engagement of box members 4, with concave surface to convex surface placement, permits an infinite number of outer perimeter wall configurations.

In constructing artificial island 1, box members 4, manufactured ashore, are loaded onto a marine barge type vessel 40 as shown in FIG. 2, which transports the box members to a designated location in body of water 50. As seen in FIG. 3, each box member 4 is offloaded and sunk within the body of water. FIG. 4 shows box member 4 then being positioned on subsurface floor 52, where special dredging vessels 42 discharge aggregate and rip-rap 30 along front and rear surfaces 18 and 20 of the box member, to stabilize it and maintain its position in the water. Box members 4 are each positioned in this manner and aligned in mating fashion. As seen in FIG. 6 box member 4a is positioned adjacent to box member 4b such that concave side surface 14 of box member 4a engages and mates with convex side surface 16 of box member 4b. This process of positioning and placement of box members 4 continues circumferentially, in order to form outer perimeter wall 2 in the desired artificial island configuration.

Inner space 22 is formed within completed outer perimeter wall 2. Vessels employing heavy duty pumping apparatus are then used to pump out and drain the water within inner space 22. Bulk carrying barges or ships and dredgers are then used to fill in space 22 with rocks 24 and then dirt, dredge spoils, and other debris 26 to form the solid ground foundation of artificial island 1. As previously described, a wide variety of structures and facilities can then be constructed on island 1.

The tight fit between box members 4 should prevent water from entering inner space 22. As a result, depending on the type of fill used within the space to form the foundation of island 1, construction will be possible not only on the top surface of the island, but also inside, within the inner space as well.

Certain novel features and components of this invention are disclosed in detail in order to make the invention clear in at least one form thereof. However, it is to be clearly understood that the invention as disclosed is not necessarily limited to the exact form and details as disclosed, since it is apparent that various modifications and changes may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.