Certification: any new invention designed for oil spill clean up needs to be certified by an organism which has the habilitation to do so, in order to be sold and used. In France this organism is CEDRE http://www.cedre.fr/ ; similar organisms should exist in the US, UK,..
The certification comes as a conclusion of a test of the efficiency and operability of the system. I think it is important to contact these people quite early in the design process to know how they carry out their test, and how they assess the efficiency of a system.
Once Protei is certified (or at least the concept is validated), it will be a great asset to get funding and consideration.
The US certification organism is most likely to be the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (OHSMETT) who is hosting the X Prize:
Update Feb 7: minutes from a phone conversation with an engineer from CEDRE, France
1. Certification: there is no official stamp delivered by CEDRE nor any other similar organism. Each organism is seen as a reference in its own region: CEDRE in Europe, SINTEF in Northern Europe/Scandinavia, OHMSETT in all America, and another one in Japan acting as reference for Asia.
2. What CEDRE can do for Protei is:
21. To comment on the concept with recommendations and improvements based on their experience.
--> This is free of charge. What we need to do is to mail (on paper!) a description of Protei concept and different prototypes. Engineers at Cedre are then looking at it and comment back in a letter. Due to heavy work load, if we send a project description now, we should not expect any answer before next April.
--> With such an official letter, we have more credibility when raising funds.
22. To test the performances of Protei.
-They have a 30m*60m (90*180 feet) basin on which they can pour real oil.
-They can simulate currents and waves on a narrow band of 1.5m*20m.
-They cannot simulate wind.
This is important to keep in mind: (i) the Protei "sailing" performances need to be tested somewhere else (for example in a wind tunnel, on a fixed base, measuring the lift and drag forces created by the sails, or outdoors in real conditions) and (ii) a self powered ( with small electric engines and a propeller?) version only can be tested at Cedre facility.
-They usually pour as little oil as possible in order to minimize the time needed to clean up the basin once the test if performed. If we want to test Protei on a large spilled surface, no problem, but it means more cleaning up time, hence more expensive tests.
--> The testing phase is of course not free of charge. The facility needs to be booked in advance and every hour of testing is very costly. I didn´t ask the price, but I´d say at least 2000-3000 $ per hour (from the cost of wind tunnel testing and towing tank testing for boats), for one week of tests: 40 hours * 2500 $ = 100 000 $ as a first approximation.
--> The deliverable from the testing is an official document with the oil recovery performances, expressed in terms of:
Recovery rate: how much pollution collected in m3/hour (this is the Oil Recovery Rate - ORR)
Selectivity: how much of this pollution is oil and how much is water (expressed in % weight) (this is the Recovery Efficiency - RE)
These two performance indicators are important to keep together: if your device can collect 100 m3 pollution/hour that´s great, but if only 10% of it i oil (and 90% water) then you really collect only 10 m3 pollution / hour.
So this is the "certification" properly speaking: the tested prototype is certified to be able to collect oil with a specific Recovery Rate and Efficiency, in several weather conditions (currents and waves).
With these two figures, Protei can be compared to other technologies.
3. I explained quickly the concept of Protei over the phone to hear some first comments. What I was told is to pay great attention to:
31. the performances of the sorbent boom: absorbance, buoyancy and behavior in waves, because it will influence directly Protei´s performances. The boom has to be adapted to the speed of Protei, the speed of currents and the wave conditions.
32. the waves created by Protei when moving forward: they will move the oil away from the vehicle. So these waves needs to be minimized with a good hull form. It is a classical problem in Naval architecture for ferries crossing narrow straits or sailing in rivers ("low wash ferries").
To conclude, I think again that it is very important to have some early feedback from specialists in order:
- to focus on the correct design constraints
- to have an idea on how the prototypes performances can be evaluated in a testing facility
-is OHMSETT offering similar free service on specialist feedback?
-to update the design constraints list according to specialist feedback.