A Popular Science
Invention of the Year

Every year, the editors of Popular Science put hundreds of inventions through a rigorous vetting process. In 2010 The ECO-Auger was awarded top honors for innovation and viability. The following is an excerpt from Popular Science Magazine’s 4th annual Inventions of the Year issue published in 2010. [You can read the entire article here.] An underwater energy extractor that doesn’t harm sea life By Rena Marie Pacella W. Scott Anderson spent the past five decades creating complicated machines for manufacturing, including a lipstick labeler and a plastic-straw maker. So when two years ago the 77-year-old industrial engineer invented a fish-friendly underwater turbine that looks like a giant screw, it seemed a cruel twist of fate that every manufacturer he approached said it was too complex to produce economically. But that didn’t stop him. There are a handful of companies using windmill-like turbines to capture the untapped energy in tidal streams, bays and inlets and convert it to electricity. But these projects tend to be huge and expensive, and require permanent installations that can disrupt marine life. [READ...

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Winner of the…

Smart Product Innovations of Juno Beach Fl has been awarded the ConocoPhillips Energy Prize for their latest innovation, the ECO-Auger®, a hydrokinetic machine that converts moving water from river and ocean currents to renewable electric energy. Chosen as a one of five finalists from more than 150 proposals, the ECO-Auger team, led by Scott Anderson, was presented the award at a ceremony held at ConocoPhillips corporate offices in Houston, Texas on October 20, 2009. The ECO-Auger’s hydraulic accumulator storage system assures constant energy output and evens out the normal tidal cyclic variations. Designed with tapered helical leads on each end rather than sharp edges, the machine does not impact marine wildlife. The ECO-Auger is driven by moving water forcing the machine to rotate. This rotation is directly coupled through planetary gears to a high-pressure hydraulic pump located in the machine’s nose cone. The nose cone, which is tethered to bridges or anchored in moving water, stabilizes the torque generated from the rotation and transfers it to the hydraulic pump. The pump supplies variable volumes of high-pressure fluid at set controlled pressure, regardless of the direction or speed of rotations. This pressure feeds an oil-driven electric generator that delivers constant electrical current through a VRS (Voltage Regulation System). Constant power generation is achieved through the ECO-Auger’s unique hydraulic pump. As the ECO-Auger rotates; the high-pressure oil flows through check valves to an array of standard air oil accumulators that are connected directly in line to the oil motor driving the electric generator. The oil to the electric generator is sized below the maximum gallons per minute of the ECO-Auger’s hydraulic pump, allowing the pumped oil to be supplied to the motor, while the excess volume is stored in the accumulator. This storage system, which is monitored by a computer to assure maximum energy stability, stores enough energy to supply the generators during the ebb of tidal flow. “Our SPI team has worked with intense dedication on this invention. We worked through many failures and disappointments with no proof that our invention would ever really capture hydrokinetic energy. We proved the ECO-Auger would capture energy from moving water. I am so proud of our team. ConocoPhillips and Penn State University recognized the huge potential of this simple, yet unique device, and the fact that it will not injure marine life. They knew it would have a worldwide impact.” States Scott Anderson, CEO of Smart Products Innovations. The ConocoPhillips Energy Prize is a joint initiative of ConocoPhillips and Penn State to recognize new ideas and original, actionable solutions that can help improve the way the nation develops and uses energy. “We intend...

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Deploys near the water’s surface –
easy to install, easy to service

Until now, most hydrokinetic turbines were anchored to the bottom of rivers or tidal basins, requiring intensive labor and hardware – including scuba divers and underwater construction- for both installation and maintenance. The ECO-Auger eliminates the need for such intensive operations. Floating near the water’s surface, the ECO-Auger can be accessed easily for cleaning or service. Its support products include the ECO-Waka, a pontoon boat for deploying and anchoring the ECO-Auger, and the patented Deployment Swing System (DSS), a device to raise and lower the ECO-Auger. This integrated system allows for routine access to the ECO-Auger, making it a technologically and economically viable solution for modest operators at locations across the...

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One and a half billion people lack access to electricity

One and half billion people are still living in darkness. That’s the assessment of the World Health Organization (WHO), which also finds that three billion people — almost half of humanity — still rely on solid fuels. These statistics have real consequences, far beyond a simple lack of modern luxuries. As the WHO explains, “For those living in extreme poverty, a lack of access to energy services dramatically affects and undermines health, limits opportunities for education and development, and can reduce a family’s potential to rise up out of poverty.” Additionally, two million deaths are caused annually from the indoor burning of solid fuels. The World Energy Outlook, widely recognized as the most authoritative source for global energy projections, comes to a similar conclusion: “Modern energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country’s economic development. Access to modern energy is essential for the provision of clean water, sanitation and healthcare and for the provision of reliable and efficient lighting, heating, cooking, mechanical power, transport and telecommunications services.” (See Modern energy for all: why it matters ) For the same reasons, the World Bank also prioritizes support for rural energy access. (See Energy Access ) The people lacking energy, including electricity, are mainly in either developing Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, and in rural areas. The infrastructure for long distance transmission of electricity does not exist in most of these areas, and the construction of large scale power plants is not economically feasible. The ECO-Auger represents a realistic solution for many such remote areas. It is several orders of magnitude less expensive than a full-scale power plant, and about one tenth the cost of most water turbines, which also require much more intensive construction and support due to their location at the bottom of rivers or tidal areas. Even more traditional hydro power requires large scale construction for the creation of dams. Floating near the water’s surface, ECO-Auger can be placed in convenient locations – in relatively shallow waters; relatively close to shore; or tethered to bridges or other structures. Its integral service pontoon allows for easy installation and service, and its low price means rural citizens can begin with a single ECO-Auger and begin reaping the benefits of electricity quickly, adding more ECO-Augers as budget allows. For remote locales and other scenarios (including other construction projects) that currently rely on diesel generators to produce electricity, the use of ECO-Augers would also eliminate a significant source of pollution. The ECO-Auger’s blade-less design also means it requires less cleaning by local operators, and that it will not harm local marine life. ECO-Auger already has commitments from countries around the world,...

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