Title:
System And Method For Hydraulic Displacement
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for hydraulic displacement is described which can provide an improved method for raising or lowering a fluid level. The system and method has direct application to inland waterway transport and in particular to canal locks where canal boats traverse inclines through a series of locks. In addition, the invention can provide the access to a marina, which may be raised up above sea level or behind a sea wall defence. The method enables the formation of an improved hydraulic displacement lock capable of a greater vertical displacement with greatly reduced flow of fluid through the lock. The hydraulic displacement lock comprises an enclosed central channel, having sequential fluid storage tanks connected to the central channel. When the central channel is closed at its lower end, opening and closing connecting channels to the sequential storage tanks allows fluid to flow under the force of gravity into or out of the central channel, thereby raising or lowering the level of fluid.



Inventors:
Fogarty, Terry (Birmingham, GB)
Application Number:
12/225146
Publication Date:
06/25/2009
Filing Date:
02/23/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02C5/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FIORELLO, BENJAMIN F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FLYNN THIEL, P.C. (KALAMAZOO, MI, US)
Claims:
1. A hydraulic displacement system for raising or lowering floating objects or boats or barges between different elevations characterised by: a central transit tube (101) further comprising; one or more alignment means (111), and a lower entry structure (104) comprising a sealing gate (105) to a lower entrance or waterway (107) and an upper entry structure (103) comprising a sealing gate (109) to an upper entrance or waterway (106), and a floating platform structure (501) wherein said floating platform structure (501) moving within said central transit tube (101), and a sequence of one or more side storage tanks (102) connected to said central transit tube (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve (108) for exchanging fluid between said side storage tanks (102) and said central transit tube (101), and a powered control means (110) comprising a command and control centre for monitoring fluid level and water flow and securely managing the entire operation of said hydraulic displacement system wherein said fluid control valve (108) being controlled by said powered control means (110) or manually opened and closed.

2. A hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 1 wherein said hydraulic displacement system being constructed of reinforced concrete or other suitable material built either in situ by pouring said reinforced concrete or suitable material, or by assembling part or complete prefabricated sections, and wherein said gates (105, 109) being made of stainless steel or other suitable material, and wherein said central transit tube (101) being vertical or sloped for best matching the angle of the terrain profile or best suiting for the application.

3. A hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 2 wherein said lower entry structure (104) allowing one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges to enter and leave said lower entry structure (301) further comprising a central wet cavity (202) comprising a mounting structure (205) at both ends, and two dry cavities (203) providing means to maintain and service counterweight systems (207) wherein suitable watertight seals preventing leakage of water between said mounting structure (205) and said two dry cavities (203), and an axis (204) connecting said gate (105) and said mounting structure (205) wherein said axis (204) being connected at each end to a control structure (206) which is connected to said central control means (110), and wherein said counterbalance system (207) further comprising a moving element which moves in the opposite direction within the counterbalance system to the front edge of said gate (208) as said gate (208) is opened or closed, and wherein said lower curved gates (105) being closed around said axis (204) and part of a cylindrical profile.

4. A hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 2 further comprising an upper entry point (301) surrounded by terrain areas (305) and comprising a safety rail (302) and said upper entry structure (301), wherein said upper entry structure (301) further comprising said gate (109) connecting the upper waterway (106) to the water of the upper entry structure (103) allowing one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges to enter and leave said upper entry structure (301).

5. An hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 2 wherein said floating platform structure (501) further comprising two mooring platforms (502) comprising one or more mooring bollards (509), and wherein at least one of said mooring platforms (502) comprising a safety hatch (511) linking via internal steps to a closed compartment suitable for passengers to enter and seal themselves in during an emergency, and an upper element (505), further comprising an alignment arm (504) comprising one or more wheels (507) to make contact with the inner surface of an upper alignment profile (111) of said transit tube (101) in order to align said floating platform structure (501) with said upper alignment profile (111) in the inner surface of said transit tube (101), and a lower linking structure (503) further comprising a lower guide structure (506) comprising one or more wheels (508) to make contact with the inner surface of a lower alignment profile (111) of said transit tube (101) in order to align said floating platform structure (501) with said lower alignment profile (111) in the inner surface of said transit tube (101), and a tank for storing fire retardant foam being linked to a dispensing means on the surface of said floating mooring platforms (502), and a front lower curved edge (510) for creating a pressure wave as the level of the water rises for enabling said floating mooring platform (502) to move easily during transit.

6. An hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 1 for connecting canals at different elevations creating a sloping canal lock, or for traversing undulated terrains, or for passing a canal underneath a motorway as a canal bridge, or for harbouring boats in coastal marinas or in marinas linked to inland lakes and reservoirs or in sheltered coastal harbours wherein said marinas being built above sea level or above the level of the surrounding watercourse, or for constructing a dry dock facility, or for raising and lowering freight or boats or personnel carriers where the entry point being at the same height as the storage deck of said freight, or for moving a personal-carrying pod which drops into the sea in case of an oil rig evacuation or which raises material and food supplies, or for underwater sight seeing of an extensive aquarium or close offshore marine life when the material of said central transit tube (101) being transparent, or for the construction of multilevel moorings adjacent to existing waterways, or for raising and lowering a boat over a defensive sea wall or outer harbour wall or geological rock.

7. A hydraulic displacement system for raising or lowering floating objects or boats or barges between different elevations characterised by: two transit tubes (101) wherein each of said transit tubes (101) further comprising; one or more alignment means (111), and a lower entry structure (104) comprising a sealing gate (105) to a lower waterway (107) and an upper entry structure (103) comprising a sealing gate (109) to an upper waterway (106), and a floating platform structure (501) wherein said floating platform structure (501) moves within said transit tube (101) and a sequence of one or more side storage tanks (102) connected to said transit tube (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve (108) for exchanging fluid from said side storage tanks (102) and said transit tube (101), and a powered control means (110) comprising a command and control centre for monitoring fluid level and water flow and securely managing the entire operation of said hydraulic displacement system wherein said fluid control valve (108) being controlled by said powered control means (110) or manually opened and closed, and/or a walkway between said two transit tubes (101), and/or means for connecting said two transit tubes (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve for exchanging water between said two transit tubes (101).

8. A hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 7 wherein said hydraulic displacement system being constructed of reinforced concrete or other suitable material built either in situ by pouring said reinforced concrete or suitable material, or by assembling part or complete prefabricated sections, and wherein said gates (105, 109) being made of stainless steel or other suitable material and wherein each of said central transit tube (101) being vertical or sloped for best matching the angle of the terrain profile or best suiting for the application.

9. A hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 8 wherein said lower entry structure (104) allowing one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges to enter and leave said lower entry structure (301) further comprising a central wet cavity (202) comprising a mounting structure (205) at both end, and two dry cavities (203) providing means to maintain and service counterweight systems (207) wherein suitable watertight seals preventing leakage of water between said mounting structure (205) and said two dry cavities (203), and an axis (204) connecting said gate (105) and said mounting structure (205) wherein said axis (204) being connected at each end to a control structure (206) which is connected to said central control means (110), and wherein said counterbalance system (207) further comprising a moving element which moves in the opposite direction within the counterbalance system to the front edge of said gate (208) as said gate (208) is opened or closed, and wherein said lower curved gates (105) being closed around said axis (204) and part of a cylindrical profile.

10. An hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 8 further comprising an upper entry point (301) surrounded by terrain areas (305) and comprising a safety rail (302) and said upper entry structure (301), wherein said upper entry structure (301) further comprising, said gate (109) connecting the upper waterway (106) to the water of the upper entry structure (103) allowing one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges to enter and leave said upper entry structure (301).

11. A hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 8 wherein said floating platform structure (501) further comprising two mooring platforms (502) comprising one or more mooring bollards (509), and wherein at least one of said mooring platforms (502) comprising a safety hatch (511) linking via internal steps to a closed compartment suitable for passengers to enter and seal themselves in during an emergency, and an upper element (505), further comprising an alignment arm (504) comprising one or more wheels (507) to make contact with the inner surface of an upper alignment profile (111) of said transit tube (101) in order to align said floating platform structure (501) with said upper alignment profile (111) in the inner surface of said transit tube (101), and a lower linking structure (503) further comprising a lower guide structure (506) comprising one or more wheels (508) to make contact with the inner surface of a lower alignment profile (111) of said transit tube (101) in order to align said floating platform structure (501) with said lower alignment profile (111) in the inner surface of said transit tube (101), and a tank for storing fire retardant foam being linked to a dispensing means on the surface of said floating mooring platforms (502), and a front lower curved edge (510) for creating a pressure wave as the level of the water rises for enabling said floating mooring platform (502) to move easily during transit.

12. A hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 8 wherein said central walkway further comprising a lower and an upper access doors (401) between said two transit tubes (101) a separate tunnel structure comprising transparent viewing ports being constructed of a suitable material having the capability to withstand the hydraulic pressures involved, wherein said transparent viewing ports in the transit tubes enabling pedestrians to view said floating objects or boats or barges passing during transit, watertight doors in order to enable persons to leave either of the transit tubes in an emergency case, and/or means for integrating within said structure safety alarms and control systems, and/or high volume drains for removing water from either of the transit tubes in case of emergency comprising drain port valves which can be opened by said command and control centre (110) to enable said transit tube (101) containing water to be rapidly drained.

13. A hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 1 for connecting canals at different elevations creating a sloping canal lock, or for traversing undulated terrains, or for passing a canal underneath a motorway as a canal bridge, or for harbouring boats in coastal marinas or in marinas linked to inland lakes and reservoirs or in sheltered coastal harbours wherein said marinas being built above sea level or above the level of the surrounding watercourse, or for constructing a dry dock facility, or for raising and lowering freight or boats or personnel carriers where the entry point being at the same height as the storage deck of said freight, or for softly moving a carrying-carrying pod which drops softly into the sea in case of an oil rig evacuation or which raises material and food supplies, or for underwater sight seeing of an extensive aquarium or close offshore marine life when the material of said central transit tube (101) being transparent, or for the construction of multilevel moorings adjacent to existing waterways, or for raising and lowering a boat over a defensive sea wall or outer harbour wall or geological rock.

14. A method for raising floating objects or boats or barges by means of a hydraulic displacement system being characterised by the steps of: entering one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges into the lower end of a transit tube (101) being connected to one or more side storage tanks (102) by way of a lower waterway (107), passing through the gate (105), and entering the lower entry structure (104), mooring one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges to a floating platform structure (501) by means of two or more mooring bollards (509)wherein said floating platform structure (501) further comprising one or more alignment arms (504) comprising one or more wheels (507) in order to be guided by the alignment means (111) of said transit tube (101), and a lower linking structure (503) further comprising a lower guide structure (506) comprising one or more wheels (508) to make contact with the inner surface of a lower alignment profile (111) of said transit tube (101) in order to align said floating platform structure (501) with said lower alignment profile (111) in the inner surface of said transit tube (101), and moving said gate (105) within a watertight groove and tightly closing said gate (105) into a recessed groove within the floor of said lower entry structure (104).

15. A method for raising floating objects or boats or barges as disclosed in claim 14 further comprising the steps of: opening the hydraulic fluid valves (108) in turns starting by the lowest of a sequence of one or more side storage tanks (102) by said powered control means (110) or manually in order to smoothly fill said central transit tube (101) wherein each of said a sequence of said one or more side storage tanks (102) being connected to said central transit tube (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve (108) for exchanging water from said side storage tanks (102) and said central transit tube (101), opening a gate (109) connecting the upper waterway (106) to the upper entry structure (103) for equalling the level of said transit tube (101) with the level of said upper waterway (106) in order to finish the lift of said floating platform structure (501) until the upper entry point (301) level, wherein said upper entry point (301) being surrounded by terrain areas (305) comprising a safety rail (302) and said upper entry structure (103) and, allowing said one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges to leave said upper entry structure (301).

16. A method for raising floating objects or boats or barges by means of a hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 15 wherein said step of opening the hydraulic fluid valves (108) in turns being replaced by the steps of opening the hydraulic fluid valves (108) in turns and/or exchanging water between two transit tubes (101) for raising floating objects or boats or barges in one transit tubes (101) and lowering floating objects or boats or barges in the other transit tubes (101) at the same time wherein said two transit tubes (101) being set at an angle best matching the terrain profile and each of said transit tubes (101) further comprising a floating platform structure (501), and raising said floating platform structure (501) in one of said transit tube (101) while at the same time lowering an other floating platform structure (501) in the other transit tube (101) wherein each of said transit tube (101) comprising; one or more alignment means (111), and a sequence of one or more side storage tanks (102) connected to said transit tube (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve (108) for exchanging water from said side storage tanks (102) and said transit tube (101), and/or means for connecting said two transit tubes (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve for exchanging water between said two transit tubes (101) and/or a walkway between said two transit tubes (101), wherein said walkway further comprising a lower and an upper access doors (401) between said two transit tubes (101), and a separate tunnel structure comprising transparent viewing ports being constructed of a suitable material having the capability to withstand the hydraulic pressures involved, wherein said transparent viewing ports in the transit tubes enabling pedestrians to view said floating objects or boats or barges passing during transit, watertight doors in order to enable persons to leave either of the transit tubes in an emergency case, and/or means for integrating within said structure safety alarms and control systems, and/or high volume drains for removing water from either of the transit tubes in case of emergency comprising drain port valves which can be opened by said command and control centre (110) to enable the transit tube to be rapidly drained.

17. A method for lowering floating objects or boats or barges by means of a hydraulic displacement system being characterised by the steps of: entering one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges into the upper end of a transit tube (101) by way of an upper waterway (107), wherein said upper entry point (301) being surrounded by terrain areas (305) comprising a safety rail (302) and said upper entry structure (103) and, passing through the gate (109), entering the upper entry structure (104), wherein said upper entry point (301) being surrounded by terrain areas (305) comprising a safety rail (302) and further comprising an upper entry structure (103) and, mooring one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges to a floating platform structure (501) comprising one or more alignment arms (504) in order to be guided by the alignment means (111) of said transit tube (101) by means of two or more mooring bollards (509) wherein said floating platform structure (501) further comprising one or more alignment arms (504) comprising one or more wheels (508) in order to be guided by the alignment means (111) of said transit tube (101) by means of two or more mooring bollards (509), and a lower linking structure (503) further comprising a lower guide structure (506) comprising one or more wheels (507) to make contact with the inner surface of a lower alignment profile (111) of said transit tube (101) in order to align said floating platform structure (501) with said lower alignment profile (111) in the inner surface of said transit tube (101), and closing said gate (109) in order to prevent the water of said upper waterway (107) to enter said upper entry structure (103).

18. A method for lowering floating objects or boats or barges by means of a hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 17 further comprising the steps of: opening the hydraulic fluid valves (108) in turns starting by the highest of a sequence of one or more side storage tanks (102) by said powered control means (110) or manually in order to smoothly fill said central transit tube (101) wherein each of said sequence of said one or more side storage tanks (102) being connected to said central transit tube (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve (108) for exchanging water from said side storage tanks (102) and said central transit tube (101), opening a gate (105) connecting the lower waterway (107) to the lower entry structure (104) for equalling the level of said transit tube (101) with the level of said lower waterway (107) in order to finish the descent of said floating platform structure (501) until the lower entry (104) level, allowing said one or two of said floating objects or boats or barges to leave said lower entry structure (301).

19. A method for lowering floating objects or boats or barges by means of a hydraulic displacement system as disclosed in claim 15 wherein said step of opening the hydraulic fluid valves (108) in turns being replaced by the steps of opening the hydraulic fluid valves (108) in turns and/or exchanging water between two transit tubes (101) for lowering floating objects or boats or barges in one transit tubes (101) and raising floating objects or boats or barges in the other transit tubes (101) at the same time wherein said two transit tubes (101) being set at an angle best matching the terrain profile or best suiting the application and each of said transit tubes (101) further comprising a floating platform structure (501), and raising said floating platform structure (501) in one of said transit tube (101) while at the same time lowering an other floating platform structure (501) in the other transit tube (101) wherein each of said transit tube (101) comprising; one or more alignment means (111), and a sequence of one or more side storage tanks (102) connected to said transit tube (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve (108) for exchanging water from said side storage tanks (102) and said transit tube (101), and/or means for connecting said two transit tubes (101) by tubes containing a fluid control valve for exchanging water between said two transit tubes (101) and/or a walkway between said two transit tubes (101), wherein said walkway further comprising a lower and an upper access doors (401) between said two transit tubes (101), and a separate tunnel structure comprising transparent viewing ports being constructed of a suitable material having the capability to withstand the hydraulic pressures involved, wherein said transparent viewing ports in the transit tubes enabling pedestrians to view said floating objects or boats or barges passing during transit, watertight doors in order to enable persons to leave either of the transit tubes in an emergency case, and/or means for integrating within said structure safety alarms and control systems, and/or high volume drains for removing water from either of the transit tubes in case of emergency comprising drain port valves which can be opened by said command and control centre (110) to enable the transit tube to be rapidly drained.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a system and method for hydraulic displacement. More particularly, it relates to a system and method for raising or lowering a fluid level in a central cavity, which can work using active pumping or under gravity without requiring any power. In particular, the invention has direct application to inland waterway transport wherein this system and method for hydraulic displacement can be used to create a highly efficient and effective way to raise or lower a boat between different water levels. In addition, the invention can provide sea or lake-going boats with an improved access to a marina, which may be raised up above sea level and or behind a sea wall defence.

Generally, inland waterway networks have been well established over many hundreds of years and methods to raise boats over inclines using standard locks are known. In fact, conventional locks work so effectively that other solutions have not been sought. Nevertheless, canal locks are not efficient. Increasingly, the method of achieving vertical lift via sequential canal locks, which comprise canal sections of approximately 25 metres long having paddle gates at either end, is creating bottlenecks in the inland waterway transport network as the network becomes more popular and more boats use the canals. An alternative method is needed which is able to move water craft more efficiently over undulating terrain than conventional locks.

Standard canal locks comprise several key challenges, not only for those sailing the boats, but also for the environment. In order for a boat to pass a single canal lock, which may typically raise a boat only 3 metres in vertical ascent, approximately 40,000 litres of water flow through the lock. This is a substantial amount of water which is lost each time a boat passes through a lock. A system and method for hydraulic displacement which greatly reduces the amount of water passing through the lock will have a reduced impact upon the head of water in the canal system.

This substantial movement of water also has an impact on the ecosystems of the canal. If it were possible to reduce the flow of water through the canal, less damage will be done to the environment.

Generally, there are other environmental problems associated with canal locks relating to the silting up of the locks due to the stagnation of water. Insufficient or irregular water flow causes silting of the canal channel. A system which would prevent silting of the main canal channel would greatly reduce the maintenance of the canal waterways.

From a safety perspective, canal locks have limited exit points for boat passengers should they fall overboard. Once in the water and with the boat potentially squeezing a person to the side walls, any person falling into the water must swim around searching for an exit point. A new canal lock which reduces dangers to boat passengers while transiting the lock will be greatly welcomed.

Generally, flights of locks take a relatively long time to transit due to the limitations in vertical height that each lock can provide as well as the duration of the transit which involves opening and closing paddle gates against the water in the locks themselves. Clearly, a new lock design which provides the means to ascend or descend without needing to open and close paddle gates against water will greatly improve transit times over undulating terrain.

When a boat moves through a canal lock there is some movement of the boat due to the ingress of water into the lock. Any relative movement through a larger lock system such as the one disclosed in this patent application needs to be prevented and boats must be kept aligned during transit. Additional means are thus required to maintain the alignment of the boats as each one transits a lock of much larger dimensions. The current invention is also directed towards this said problem of alignment.

Alternative systems to raise or lower canal boats a substantial vertical distance using more complex structures than conventional flights of locks are known. The two most common systems are the inclined plane method and the vertical lift method. An example of the inclined plane method can be seen in operation at Ronquieres in Belgium. In the inclined plane method, two sets of rail tracks climb an incline connecting two canals at two separate elevations. Each canal terminates in a tank section where each tank sits upon one rail structure and where an upper tank structure is linked to a lower tank structure by some cable means. Boats sail into a tank in each of the higher and lower canals and then each tank is closed. The tank and boat at the higher elevation is made heavier than the lower tank and boat by adding more water to it. The higher heavier tank then descends under gravity to the lower elevation thereby pulling the lighter lower tank up to the higher elevation via the said cable means.

Two examples of the vertical lift method include the Falkirk Wheel at Falkirk in Scotland and the boat lift at Strepy-Thieu in Belgium. The Falkirk Wheel rotates two canal tank sections each containing a boat around an axis from an upper canal to a lower level where the upper tank section is made heavier than the lower tank section by varying the amount of water. The cost of building the Falkirk Wheel was reported as 17.5 million pounds sterling. The boat lift at Strepy-Thieu links an upper and lower canal via a boat lift system. This system comprises two canal tank sections which are attached by 112 suspension cables and 32 control cables and which are driven by a powerful lift engine and where the upper and heavier canal tank section undergoes a controlled descent and raises the lighter and lower canal tank section. The cost of building the boat lift and completing the connecting canal infrastructure at Strepy-Thieu in Belgium was reported as costing in excess of 647 million euros. In fact, the boat lift system is extremely complicated to operate and to maintain which greatly limits it to high water traffic environments.

Clearly, these systems for connecting canals at different elevations are very complex and expensive to construct and any cost effective alternative which is more effective and efficient to implement will be very attractive to the inland waterways transport industry. Moreover, a solution is needed which is economically viable for large and small water traffic situations.

In addition to these problems of connecting canals at different heights or for systems to enable canals to traverse undulating terrain, substantial excavations must take place. Any solution which could enable a canal to pass underneath a motorway rather than over it would make possible a canal connection for a greatly reduced cost. Canal bridges are extremely expensive and substantial foundations must be built to support such structures.

There are other application areas to which the invention of this application is directed which involves the harbouring of boats such as in coastal marinas or in marinas linked to inland lakes and reservoirs or in sheltered coastal harbours. Building marinas is extremely expensive because marinas must have open access to the sea or reservoir or lake to which they will be connected. Consequently, the designated site of the marina must be sealed off and drained at great expense before construction may begin. Moreover, the locations of marinas and their construction in the vicinity of holiday resorts are greatly determined by the coastline and the geography of the site, which in turn determines the cost of construction. Often marinas simply cannot be built due to the problems of water drainage, site excavation, vehicle access to the site and tidal fluctuations. In fact, tidal variability and the degree of protection against prevailing weather conditions afforded by the marina coastal barriers are also factors which influence the possibility of building a marina at any location. Other essential factors include the ease of building access roads to the marina and the requirement for facilities for launching boats into and removing boats out of the water for servicing and repair.

Boats in marinas also require periodic maintenance. Generally, boats must be physically removed from the water before boats can be adequately overhauled and checked for any damage below the water line. Dry dock facilities are simply not available for small water craft. All of these problem areas are addressed by the current invention for a system and method for hydraulic displacement and its direct application to marinas.

Wherever water channels can be used for transporting freight or boats or water-transport personnel carriers, there are challenges involved with raising or lowering the said freight or boats or personnel carriers. If a system and method existed for moving freight off ships close to shore using a raised water channel comprising an entry point at the same height as the storage deck of the said freight, where the freight is lowered onto a pontoon in the raised channel and the channel can provide a means to lower the freight to a lower level, significant benefits would arise since fewer cranes would be needed.

Moreover, such a controlled descent of the freight would greatly reduce the damage to the freight which might occur if the freight were dropped from the ship during unloading.

Such a solution would also be suitable for disembarkation from ships and oil rigs in the instance that a controlled descent is required. Currently, emergency evacuation of oil rigs is effected using helicopters, and when this is not possible as in the case of fire, a personnel-carrying pod may be used which drops into the sea from the level of the oil rig platform. This can cause injury to the passengers when the pod plunges into the sea. The system and method of the current invention is also directed towards this aspect of oilrig evacuation.

In a separate application any method for providing controlled descent of a floating craft down a closed cavity also has direct application to underwater viewing of an extensive aquarium or close offshore marine life. Such a system could provide a new and exciting recreational activity for viewing undersea creatures in the instance that the cavity were at least partly formed of suitable transparent material.

In other application areas which involve boat mooring, the reduced number of mooring spaces and increased congestion on inland waterways is greatly increasing the prices of moorings due to standard supply and demand market forces. Any system which can make possible the creation of mooring facilities including multilevel moorings adjacent to existing waterways will greatly alleviate this problem.

In other parts of the world such as in South America, the mass production of the Soya bean for global export poses engineers some challenges. Currently the climate and environment makes parts of South America the prime location to grow millions of acres of Soya Bean and the estimated investment in US dollars stands at 1.6 billion. China alone has purchased some 120 million acres to grow and export Soya beans to its own population. The merging of 2 major rivers from Paraguay to Uruguay and the development of the Atlantic/Pacific corridor are just 2 of the exciting projects which would benefit from using the Diagonal Lock Concept. Any engineers embarking on restoration should indeed consider the concept or development of waterways as the design offers flexibility simplicity and total control over water, which is not a feature of any alternative design available.

Further to these limitations of existing technologies, and so far as is known, no system and method for hydraulic displacement is presently available which is directed towards the specific needs of this problem area as outlined.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved system and method for hydraulic displacement which can raise or lower a fluid level such that it can be applied directly to improvements for the movement of any floating means between different elevations.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide an improved system and method for hydraulic displacement which can raise or lower a fluid level in a section of a fluid transport network such that it can be applied directly to improvements for the movement of boats along canals travelling over undulating terrain and which can serve to replace flights of conventional canal locks in an efficient and effective way.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which comprises a tube which may be sloped at the angle of the terrain which comprises a central cavity for containing fluid and which further comprises one or more fluid storage tanks connected to the central cavity which can exchange fluid with the central cavity and thereby change the level of the fluid in the central cavity.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which comprises a tube which may be sloped at the angle of the terrain which comprises a central cavity for containing fluid and which further comprises one or more fluid storage tanks connected to the central cavity which makes use of one or more hydraulic fluid valves which each provide connection between at least one fluid storage tank whereby these valves can be opened and closed manually or by automated means. In addition, hydraulic valves may connect to an adjacent central cavity tube, where at least one additional central cavity transit tube is present.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which comprises a tube which may be sloped at the angle of the terrain which comprises a central cavity for containing fluid and which further comprises one or more fluid storage tanks connected to the central cavity which makes use of one or more hydraulic fluid valves which can provide a variable rate of fluid exchange, either between the transit tube and the fluid storage tanks and or an adjacent transit tube, or between the transit tube and emergency flood drains outside the structure so that the rate of drainage of fluid from the central cavity can be increased in conditions of an emergency.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which comprises more than one tube which may be sloped at the angle of the terrain each of which comprises a central cavity for containing fluid and which further comprises one or more fluid storage tanks connected to at least one central cavity which can exchange fluid with the at least one central cavity and thereby change the level of the fluid in the central cavity and where there is a direct hydraulic connection between the two or more tubes to enable fluid to be exchanged between them resulting in fluid lowering in one tube as fluid rises in another.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can form an improved hydraulic lock for moving boats or floating pontoons between different elevations which comprises more than one primary cavity tube sloped at the angle of the terrain or at an angle suitable for the location which are linked to each other to enable fluid to be exchanged between them wherein at least one primary tube comprises one or more fluid storage tanks such that fluid can be exchanged either directly between the plurality of primary tubes and or between at least one primary tube and one or more of the said fluid storage tanks in order to change the level of fluid in the said primary tubes so that boats or floating pontoons can be raised or lowered in elevation. In particular, the direct connection between the two or more primary tubes enables, for example, a substantial amount of fluid to be moved from one primary tube into an adjacent primary tube so that one boat can be moved downwards as another boat in the adjacent tube is raised.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can form an improved hydraulic lock for moving boats or floating pontoons between different elevations which comprises two primary boat or pontoon transit tubes adjacent to each other and a sequence of fluid storage tanks such that water can be exchanged between the said tanks and tubes to raise one or more boats in one tube while lowering one or more boats in another tube wherein the system may comprise a separate tube to serve as a dry transit passage situated adjacent to the said transit tubes to provide a means of escape in case of fire or emergency by way of watertight doors or to view craft in transit through transparent windows into the primary transit tubes.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide a canal lock which greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the lock when compared to conventional canal locks as each boat transits the lock according to the system and method of the current invention.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which comprises one or more fluid storage tanks such that fluid can be exchanged between the said tanks and central cavity either flowing under the force of gravity or being forced under pressure via a pumping system.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which comprises a lower gate which closes while a boat is transiting the lock which is designed to withstand the pressure caused by the water stored in the central cavity wherein the gate is curved and closes into a receiving curved slot or wherein the gate is flat and closes into a recess in the bottom of the lock.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement to create a sloping canal lock which may be constructed of concrete and or other suitable material and which comprises one or more central cavity transit tubes wherein each comprises a lower gate in addition to one or more water storage tanks such that when a lower gate is closed, water can be sequentially drained into the central cavity from the said fluid storage tank(s) and or from a separate transit tube such that the level of water in the central cavity rises up, or water can be drained from the central cavity into the fluid storage tanks and or into a separate transit tube such that the level of water in the central cavity falls.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which comprises a new and improved sloping canal lock wherein the lock comprises an entry and exit means for a boat at the top and the bottom so that boats can enter and ascend up through or descend down through the central cavity of the lock by the exchange of water between the one or more water storage tanks and the central cavity.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which comprises a curved lower gate wherein the curved gate is shaped as part of a cylindrical surface and rotates around an axis such that the axis is tangential to the direction of the boat within the lock such that the boat ascends or descends along a line which is tangential to the axis of the gate.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement wherein the curved gate is shaped as part of a cylindrical surface and rotates around an axis such that the axis is normal to the direction of the boat within the lock such that the boat ascends or descends along a line which is normal to the axis of the gate.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement wherein the curved gate comprises counterweights to counterbalance the forward force of the gate due to its weight such that the downward turning force or moment of the gate is very low at any point along its path of motion as it turns around the gate axis.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement wherein the curved gate is made of stainless steel or other suitable material and the counterweights are attached to the rear extension of the curved gate and are enclosed within a separate dry structure such that the counterweights remain outside the central wet cavity and are thus dry and serviceable during operation of the gate.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which affords improved safety features when implemented as a new and improved canal lock for moving a boat between different elevations.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide a rapid means for lifting or lowering a boat or other floating container or device according to different application environments.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which is suitable for raising a boat to a marina which is built above sea level or above the level of the surrounding watercourse.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which is suitable for raising a boat over a defensive sea wall or outer harbour wall or geological rock feature to a marina such that a marina can be constructed in a more economically viable location and where boats may be afforded additional protection from weather and or tidal changes.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which enables the construction of a marina in a more fortuitous location above sea level and whereby the marina may comprise a partial or complete dry dock facility for servicing and or repair when part or all of the marina water is diverted out of the marina.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which enables the construction of an improved canal lock or boat elevation system which is directed to raising or lowering boats between different elevations in a very cost effective way compared to alternative methods currently available.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which enables the construction of inland or coastal marinas built at higher elevation such that there is a greatly reduced need to drain extensive areas for the construction of the said marinas and where the location can be optimised in terms of road access and boat launching facilities.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide an improved hydraulic lock and which is suited for the controlled transportation of boats or freight or floating personnel carriers, collectively called craft, between different elevations and whereby the system comprises a means to maintain the alignment of the said craft as each craft transits the lock.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide an improved lock and which comprises a means of alignment for craft transiting the lock such that the alignment system comprises a floating pontoon or bollard structure to which one or more craft are moored during transit of the lock and wherein the alignment system is raised or lowered with the craft as the hydraulic level changes.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide an improved lock and which comprises a means of alignment for craft transiting the lock such that the alignment system comprises a submerged section which is lower than the one or more craft which are moored to it, such that the one or more craft sit upon or above part of the alignment system which controls their alignment during transit.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide an improved lock and which comprises a means of alignment for aligning craft during transit which floats and which comprises a guiding means which follows one or more grooves or channels and or raised profiles in the wall of the tube.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide an improved lock and which comprises a means of alignment for aligning craft during transit which comprises a guiding means and further comprises roller balls or wheels integrated with the said guiding means to improve the transit of the floating bollard structure to which the craft are moored.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide an improved lock and which comprises a means of alignment for aligning craft during transit which forms a floating bollard structure to which the craft are moored which comprises a concave curved profile at the end of the structure closest to the door system such that the rising level of hydraulic fluid exerts a pressure upon this back end of the alignment structure.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide an improved lock and which comprises a means of alignment for aligning craft during transit through the lock comprising features such as a storage tank to contain fire-retardant foam, and or a safety chamber for passengers to enter and secure themselves against fumes or emergency situations, and bollards to which the craft can be moored fore and aft.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide a controlled means for disembarkation from ships and oil rigs.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which can enable a canal to pass underneath a motorway rather than over it and thereby save the substantial cost of manufacturing a canal bridge.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which makes use of the lock as part of the means for viewing undersea creatures in the instance that the cavity is formed of strong and transparent material such that it forms part of a closed transit viewing network and provides the link between the upper level entry point of the network and the lower underwater viewing level of the marine or aquarium environment.

It is a further object of one embodiment of the present invention to provide a system and method for hydraulic displacement which makes use of hydraulic fluid valves which can be opened in an emergency to maximise the rate of drainage of the transit cavity.

Other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the description to follow when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Certain of the foregoing and related objects are readily-attained according to the present invention by the provision of a novel system and method for hydraulic displacement which can provide the basis for a new and improved inland waterways lock for traversing undulating terrain which serves to address the diverse existing inefficiencies of flights of locks.

In a main embodiment, the invention provides a highly creative solution for raising or lowering boats or floating pontoons between different elevations which makes use of a central transit channel which slopes against the profile of the landscape and which comprises an upper and a lower entry point where the lower entry point comprises a lower gate which can be closed to enable the filling of the central channel which will raise the level of water in that channel. The central channel is hydraulically connected to a sequence of fluid storage tanks which can be opened and closed to exchange water with the central channel, either under gravity or via a pumping means. Alternatively, and according to a different embodiment, a second transit channel may be constructed alongside the first transit channel such that water can be exchanged between the two transit channels directly.

Raising and or lowering the water level in one or more transit channels, which are each closed by means of a lower gate, can be achieved by exchanging water between the fluid storage tanks and or directly between an adjacent transit channel by means of hydraulic valves which can be manually opened or closed or automated.

The same system and method provides the means to connect a marina with a waterway, or a lake, or a reservoir, or open sea which may be at a lower level, thereby making possible the construction of a marina in an economically favourable location and at greatly reduced cost and or behind a continuous water defence barrier. In alternative applications the invention provides the means for enabling an inland waterway to be built under an existing motorway.

The invention also comprises a floating bollard or mooring system which aligns the boats during transit of the lock. In addition, the hydraulic lock may comprise an adjacent dry passage to enable escape through watertight doors in the rare instances of fire or fumes as well as providing a pedestrian link for persons to view the operation of the lock when boats are in transit.

The same system and method also provides an alternative means for lifting and lowering freight or persons on floating pontoons in a controlled way which may have direct application in industrial manufacturing environments as well as in applications where emergency evacuation may be required such as from an oil rig.

Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, which disclose several key embodiments of the invention. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed for the purpose of illustration only and that the particular description of the hydraulic lock and its application to a marina are given by way of example only to help highlight the advantages of the current invention and do not limit the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a schematic identifying all the essential elements of one embodiment of a single channel hydraulic lock which can be constructed according to the current invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates one embodiment of a lower gate used to close the lock during transit.

FIG. 3a illustrates one embodiment of a single channel hydraulic lock which can be constructed according to the current invention.

FIG. 3b illustrates one embodiment of the upper access area of the single channel hydraulic lock.

FIG. 4 illustrates a second embodiment of a hydraulic lock which comprises a second transit channel.

FIG. 5 illustrates one example of a floating mooring structure which can serve to align boats during transit of the lock.

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now in detail to the drawings and in particular FIG. 1 thereof, therein illustrated is a schematic of the hydraulic displacement system according to the current invention.

The following description makes full reference to the detailed features according to different embodiments as outlined in the objects of the invention.

The system comprises a central transit tube (101) which has connected to it a sequence of side storage tanks (102). In the application for an improved canal lock, the hydraulic system connects two canals at different elevations.

The system further comprises a lower entry structure (104) and an upper entry structure (103). The lower entry structure (104) further comprises a gate (105) which can be opened or closed to allow boats or floating pontoons to enter or leave the hydraulic displacement system.

At the lower end of the system is a lower waterway (107) which is separated from the transit tube by the gate (105) and at the higher end of the system is an upper waterway (106) which can be sealed from the upper waterway by a gate (109).

The storage tanks (102) are connected to the main transit tube by tubes containing fluid control vales (108). These valves may be opened and closed manually to allow water to be exchanged between the main transit tube (101) and the storage tanks (102), or the powered control means (110) can be fully integrated with every aspect of the system including the opening and closing of the hydraulic valves (108) to manage the entire operation of the hydraulic system.

The powered control means (110) comprises a command and control centre which will be built separately from the structure and will be linked to every moving part of the structure. In order to take full control of the operation of the hydraulic system, it will monitor fluid levels at every point in the system and the flow of water between the transit tube and storage tanks while a boat is in transit. In addition the control means will take full control of the management of the lower gate (105).

When not in use, both gates (105, 109) are closed and the level of fluid in the transit tube is either at the level of the upper waterway (106) or at the level of the lower waterway (107). The hydraulic displacement system makes use of the side storage tanks in an efficient and effective way to minimise the net flow of fluid between the upper and lower waterways.

The control means (110) may supervise control of the upper gate (109) to manage the safety of the system.

In operation, a boat enters the lower end of the transit tube by way of the lower waterway (107) and then enters the lower entry structure (104) after passing through the gate (105) which is closed behind it. The boat is moored to a floating platform, an example of which is shown in FIG. 5, which is held in alignment during transit by an alignment means (111). The alignment means (111) comprises one or more continuous channels or profiles on the inside surface of the transit tube, and the floating platform to which the boat is moored, comprises one or more alignment arms which are guided by the alignment means during transit.

Due to the symmetry of the system, it is anticipated that two boats will be raised or lowered at the same time.

To raise a boat from the lower level to the upper level, as has been indicated, the boat is moored securely to a floating platform. After this, the gate is securely closed. During the transit of the hydraulic lock, the lower gate closes the lower tube and makes possible the raising of boats or floating pontoons in the transit tube. In the preferred embodiment, the gate comprises part of a cylindrical profile and closes around an axis. Details of the gate and its operation will be described shortly with reference to FIG. 2.

Water is then emptied from the nearest fluid storage tank into the transit tube (101). The separation in height between the bottom level of the storage tank and the level of fluid in the transit tube is chosen carefully to optimise the amount of fluid that will flow into the transit tube. When the hydraulic valve (108) is open, water will flow under gravity or be pumped out until the tank is empty or the level in the transit tube is the same as the level in the storage tank. The choice of the lower level of the storage tank thus determines whether the tank is to be drained completely or partly or whether in certain instances powered pumps are to be used.

As water flows from the first storage tank into the transit tube the boat which is moored to the floating platform will rise as the platform rises. When the storage tank has been drained into the transit tube, the valve (108) is closed either manually or via some control means. When this is done, the valve (108) in the next closest tank is drained into the transit tube. This causes the water level in the main transit tube to rise further and the floating platform rises further up the transit tube.

In this way, one or two or more boats or floating pontoons which are moored to the floating means are raised within the hydraulic displacement system. After the highest storage tank has been drained into the transit tube, the floating platform will still be below the level of the upper waterway (106). The final fluid displacement required to equalize the level of water in the transit tube with the water level in the upper waterway can either be achieved by opening the upper gate (109) or preferably by providing a separate hydraulic connection, which comprises an upper valve and control means between the upper waterway and the transit tube directly. By opening this upper valve, the level of water in the transit tube will become equal to the level of water in the upper waterway.

With reference to FIG. 2, therein illustrated is a schematic of all the essential elements of the lower entry structure (104) according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

In the preferred embodiment, the lower gate system or lower entry structure (104) comprises a central wet cavity (202) and two separate dry cavities (203). The gate (105) is made up of a gate element integrated with a mounting structure at either end (205) within the wet cavity (202) which closes the lower entry structure from the lower waterway.

The gate and mounting structure are connected via an axis at each end to a control structure (206) which is connected to the central control means (110) and which comprises a counterbalance system (207). This counterbalance system comprises a moving element which moves in the opposite direction within the counterbalance system to the front edge of the gate (208) as the gate is opened or closed. In this way the net downward force due to the weight of the gate is actively counterbalanced by the system (207) to provide equilibrium of the gate system at every point of its motion around the axis (204) as it closes or opens.

In the lower part of FIG. 2 is shown a three dimensional schematic of the shape of the gate and the mounting structure and the possible location of the counterbalance system (207).

During operation, the dry cavities (203) provide the means to maintain and service the counterweight systems (207). Suitable watertight seals will be used to prevent leakage of water between the central wet cavity (202) and either of the two dry cavities (203).

During operation, the gate will move within a watertight groove and close into a recessed grove within the floor of the lower entry structure.

With reference to FIG. 3a, therein illustrated is a schematic of a hydraulic lock comprising the features of the current invention which may be built to connect a lower waterway or a coastal harbour with an upper waterway or marina.

The transit tube (101) is shown in relief and is set at an angle which best matches the terrain profile. The storage tanks (102) are either built on the surface of the terrain or they are buried underground. The command and control means which may be built to power and monitor the system when in use may be located within the lower entry structure (104). It is anticipated that the entire structure will be built of reinforced concrete or other suitable material, either being built in situ by pouring concrete or partly or completely of prefabricated sections and assembled on site using cranes. The access to the site and the difficulty of erecting cranes will determine the optimum method of construction.

With reference to FIG. 3b, therein illustrated is a schematic of the upper entry point (301) of the hydraulic lock system.

The upper entry point is surrounded by terrain areas (305) and comprises a safety rail (302)

The schematic shows the transit tube (101) descending down the terrain profile. The upper waterway (106) is connected via a gate (109) to the water in the upper entry structure (103) which comprises the total system at the top of the structure. Within this area are shown two boats (304) which may be moored to the moorings (509) which are integrated with the floating platform structure (501). This floating platform structure (501) is described in more detail later with reference to FIG. 5.

The floating platform comprises two mooring platforms (502) integrated with an upper element (505) and an alignment arm (504) which will align with the alignment profile (111) in the inner surface of the transit tube (101).

In operation, when two boats want to descend to the lower level of the hydraulic lock, the gate 109 will be opened to allow the boats to enter the upper entry structure (103) along the waterway (106). The gate (109) will be closed behind them and the boats will be moored to the floating platform using the mooring bollards (509).

The command and control means (110) will then take control of the transit of the boats through the hydraulic lock.

As the water is drained from the transit tube into the side storage tanks by making use of the hydraulic valves (108), the floating platform descends as the water level lowers and the alignment arm (504) is guided into the alignment profile (111). In this way the boats are kept aligned during descent within the hydraulic lock.

With reference to FIG. 4, therein illustrated is an example according to an alternative embodiment which comprises a second transit tube alongside a first transit tube. In this embodiment, the system works in an equivalent way as the single transit lock. The difference is that two transits may be made at the same time. Ideally, the system is set to work in a counter flow arrangement such that as one transit tube is emptying, the other transit tube is filling. In this arrangement, water can be directly fed from one transit tube to the other. This speeds up the rate of transit by reducing the need to drain water always between the storage tanks (102) as shown on FIG. 3a. FIG. 4 gives a good representation of how a central access door between the two separate gate systems can provide access to a walkway which may exist between the two transit tubes along the line A, B. This walkway may comprise a separate tunnel structure with viewing ports into the transit tubes to enable pedestrians to view the boats passing during transit. These transparent ports will be constructed of a suitable material to enable integration with the transit tube structure and will have the capability to withstand the hydraulic pressures involved.

The separate tunnel structure may also comprise watertight doors which may be used in an emergency to enable persons to leave either of the transit tubes. All known means of safety alarms and control systems may be used to make sure that this safety feature may be effectively integrated with the structure.

Additionally, if required, the system may comprise high volume drains for removing water from either of the transit tubes in case of emergency. These drain system may be controlled by the command and control centre (110) and may be built below the line of the transit tube along its entire length and comprise drain port valves which can be opened accordingly to enable the transit tube to be rapidly drained.

With reference to FIG. 5, therein illustrated is one embodiment of a floating platform which may be used by boats when transiting the hydraulic lock according to the current invention.

The floating platform (501) comprises two mooring platforms (502) connected by a lower linking structure (503). Above the platforms, an upper structure (505) comprises an alignment arm (504) and a lower guide structure (506). The upper alignment arm (504) comprises, in this embodiment, two wheels which will move as they make contact with the inner surface of the alignment profile of the transit tube (101). A similar alignment profile may exist in the lower surface of the transit tube (101) to enable the wheel (508) in the lower guide structure (506) to be guided as the floating platform (501) transits the lock.

The lower linking structure may comprise a tank storing fire retardant foam which may be linked to a dispensing means on the surface of the mooring platforms. In addition a safety hatch (511) may link via internal steps to a closed compartment in one or both mooring platforms (502) for passengers to enter and seal themselves in during an emergency.

The front lower curved edge (510) of the linking structure (503) provides an additional feature to create a pressure wave as the level of the water rises, thereby enabling the floating mooring to move easily during transit.

This system and method of hydraulic displacement has been described with particular reference to a hydraulic lock for connecting waterways at different elevations although the invention is not limited to this application only. As has been described earlier in the objects of the invention according to different embodiments, the invention has a wide range of application.

In this regard, all manner of modifications may be made by the man skilled in the art to implement the other applications. For example, the system may provide an internal building lift in which case the hydraulic fluid may not be water and the system may be entirely closed such that pumping mechanisms recirculate the fluid.

In other application areas, the hydraulic lock may be constructed according to a curving profile rather than a linear profile. This approach makes possible the connection of waterways separate in elevation but approaching and leaving in the same direction.

In particular, the curving of the hydraulic lock may make use of a curved alignment profile in the inner wall of the transit tube to guide the floating bollard structure around as it moves up or down within the lock.

This system is ideally suited for large cargo barges which may carry up to 80 containers or more and it may provide a very low cost means of building canal routes for large vessels over undulating terrain without needing to build complex and expensive structures cost hundreds of millions of Curos. In all cases the inner dimensions of the lock and the angle of the structure will be chosen with regard to the dimensions of the boats and barges which will use the system.

Also, it is anticipated that where the current invention may be situated in an area of significant water flow, there may not be the need to build storage tanks. In one embodiment, in the instance where water is abundant, the system may make direct use of the water and a reduced number or no storage tanks are built. In this case, the water will be directed to fill the cavity tube up to the level of the upper waterway and the entire cavity will drain into the lower waterway each time the transit tube is used.

Also, in instances where the main canal network may be higher than the surrounding land, such as in Holland in areas around the Maas river, the system and method of the current invention may provide a water connection for boats and barges to link them with the lower surrounding landscape.

The hydraulic lock system according to the current invention may serve as a tourist attraction and be built in a way to provide a graceful landscape feature.

The present disclosure is for illustration only and does not include all modifications and improvements which may fall within the scope of the appended claims.