PROCESSES AND APPARATUS FOR REDUCING THE INTENSITY OF TROPICAL CYCLONES

A procedure for moderating the intensity of a hurricane in regions of the seas that are host to the oil and gas industries is described, using the Gulf of Mexico as an example of such a region, and snow-making machines as the instruments for carrying out the procedure. These machines are carried on moving platforms that follow the hurricane and on fixed platforms that are located in the path of the hurricane. In the described procedure snow-making machines are installed on fixed platforms throughout the region, and only those machines that are in the path of an approaching hurricane are turned on, while the snow-making machines on the moving platform(s) are operating continually.

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Description

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Applications Ser. Nos. 60/958,777, filed Jul. 9, 2007, and 61/112,500, filed Nov. 7, 2008, and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/141,161 filed Jun. 18, 2008, all of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety and from which priority is claimed.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention teaches to use artificial snow to suppress moisture rising from warm surface water into storm clouds that are capable of producing tropical cyclones, aided if desired by the use of subsurface water to lower the temperature of surface water below the temperature that favors the production of tropical cyclones. An embodiment of the invention is disclosed in the drawings that accompany this application and the description of those drawings that follows. A ship that facilitates the use, maintenance and uninterrupted operation of snow-making and water delivery equipment under storm-at-sea conditions is disclosed.

My pending U.S. application Ser. No. 12/141,161, filed Jun. 18, 2008, teaches to use artificial snow to suppress moisture rising from warm surface water into storm clouds that are capable of producing tropical cyclones. That application discloses to use moving platforms (i.e., ships) carrying artificial snow making devices in the eye of a tropical cyclone. My present invention proposes to augment the benefits of those moving platforms with additional artificial snow making devices located on fixed platforms that may be located in ocean waters in the path of an oncoming tropical cyclone.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, a navigable vessel for use in reducing the intensity of a tropical cyclone having an eye located over an ocean comprises a plurality of artificial snow-making devices aboard the vessel, at least one pump coupled to the devices and accessible to a body of water in which the vessel is floating for supplying the devices with water for making artificial snow, and a power source coupled to the devices to operate the devices in concert for producing a substantially uninterrupted supply of artificial snow. The artificial snow-making devices have discharge nozzles oriented to project the artificial snow away from the vessel onto or above the water adjacent the vessel. In one implementation, multiple vessels equipped with artificial snow-making devices are positioned in a region of the ocean directly beneath the eye, and multiple streams of artificial snow are directed onto or above the ocean water located directly beneath the eye of the cyclone.

In another embodiment, the intensity of a tropical cyclone having an eye located over an ocean with water vapor formed above the ocean water located directly beneath the eye is reduced by producing at least one stream of artificial snow and directing said stream into the water vapor above the ocean water located directly beneath the eye. In one implementation, multiple streams of artificial snow are directed onto or above the ocean water located directly beneath the eye of the cyclone.

A hurricane that enters the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 1 or 2 storm may increase its intensity to as much as Category 3 or 4 before making landfall, owing to the presence of surface-water temperatures that are typically in excess of 80 degrees F. Unlike deep ocean waters, this Gulf is home to numerous fixed platforms engaged in oil and gas underwater drilling, a condition which may soon prevail elsewhere in Continental Shelf regions. This invention takes advantage of the probability that some of those fixed platforms may be in the path of an oncoming hurricane, proposing accordingly to fit the fixed platforms with artificial snow-making devices, to supplement the efforts of the moving platforms wherever possible. The fixed platforms may each be fitted with means to pump cooler water from deep beneath the platform and use that water as feed to the snow making devices.

Although it is not intended to limit this invention to any specific theory of operation, it is believed to be likely that the snow making devices installed on a fixed platform will act to extract heat from the moisture surrounding that platform; that the thermal conditions that favor increasing the intensity of a hurricane will be diminished by operating the snow makers installed on those platforms that are in the path of a hurricane; and that this action will increase the effectiveness of the moving platforms (the navigable vessels) that are following in the eye of the hurricane.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a ship designed to practice the invention;

FIG. 2 is a section on line 2-2 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an operational schematic showing suggested connections among the elements shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is a copy of a published illustration showing the projected path of Hurricane Ike entering the Gulf of Mexico; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic drawing illustrating the application of the invention to a platform fixed in an ocean location.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

Although the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to those particular embodiments. On the contrary, the invention is intended to cover all alternatives, modifications, and equivalent arrangements as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

In FIGS. 1 and 2 the ship has a hull 10 resembling that of a typical oil tanker, with the bridge, navigation and living spaces in a tower 12 located aft. The main deck 14 supports a superstructure 16 extending from the tower forward toward the bow 18. As seen best in FIG. 2 the superstructure 16 has sidewalls 20 extending substantially vertically from the main deck, followed by inwardly-sloping walls 22 extending upwardly, capped by a substantially horizontal roof wall 24 completing an enclosure for interior space 26. Water nozzles are fixed in and extend through the sidewalls 20 in an array extending the full length of each sidewall. Snow makers 32 are fixed in and extend through the sloping walls 22 in an array extending the full length of each sloping wall. Screened water intakes 40 are fitted in the hull underwater on either side of the keel 42 and extending through the double-bottom 44. Each water intake is fitted with a control valve 46 and a water pump 09. Water intakes 40 extend in arrays along the forward portion of the hull on each side of the keel 42. Water outlets 41 extend along the aft portion of the hull on each side of the keel. Refrigeration equipment 48 is contained within the hull below the main deck 14. A transverse thruster 50 is fitted through the hull below the water line 52. In FIG. 2 a typical snow-maker pattern 33 is shown at each snow maker 32, and a typical water stream pattern 31 is shown at each water nozzle 30. The water nozzles 30 are located in the sidewalls 20 at a level that is above the main deck rails 11, so that the water streams will clear the rails.

In FIG. 3 a line 60 extends from the control valve 46 to the refrigerator unit 48. Four output lines 62, 64, 66 and 68 extend from the refrigerator unit to each of the water nozzles 30 and the snow makers 32, individually. Each output line is fitted with a control valve 61, 63, 65 and 67, respectively. As thus far described the system will provide refrigerated water to all of the water nozzles and snow makers on the ship. There may be several refrigerator units, and each unit may service several snow makers 32 and water nozzles 30, as is suggested in FIG. 3. If desired, the water nozzles 30 may be fed water directly from the water intakes 40 via by-pass lines 70. The bypass lines connect to the line 60 from the control valve 46 through valves 72, respectively. To use the bypass lines 70 valves 72 are opened and valves 61, 67 are closed.

Each refrigerator unit 48 includes a heat exchanger 49. Within the unit 48 some of the intake water is diverted via a line 45 to the heat exchanger and through the heat exchanger to an outlet 41, for removing accumulated heat from the refrigerator unit. The outlets 41 are directed aft and downward to direct the heated water downward toward colder regions of the ocean water behind the ship.

In the process of making artificial snow the snow makers 32 extract latent heat of fusion from the water that is supplied to them. The artificial snow, in turn, extracts heat from the moisture into which it is sprayed by the snow makers. The heat that would otherwise be available to support cyclonic action is thereby diminished. Since snow makers as heretofore used are operated in a cold environment the invention provides water to the snow makers 32 that is refrigerated to a temperature low enough for the snow makers to produce artificial snow. On the other hand, since the surface-water temperature must exceed a known value in order that a cyclone may evolve, it may not be necessary to refrigerate the water that is sprayed on the surface to inhibit formation of a cyclone. The invention provides an option to refrigerate or not refrigerate that water.

Although it is not intended to limit this invention to any specific theory of operation, it is believed to be likely that initially, when the artificial snow is sprayed into the water vapor it will lower the temperature and with it the vapor pressure at a cost not exceeding one calorie per gram (assuming that the water vapor will have a specific heat not greater than that of liquid water), and that cooling of the water vapor will proceed toward the freezing point, where the vapor pressure will approach a vanishing value. This alone will deprive the cyclone of the driving force which it would otherwise derive from an uninterrupted rising volume of warm water vapor that condenses in the upper atmosphere. Should this expected scenario fail to materialize, or be insufficient to reduce the intensity of the cyclone, the invention provides the resources to condense the water vapor into liquid state, by continued application of artificial snow, and, separately, by applying cooling water from the water nozzles 30 to cool the surface water.

To gain maximum effectiveness the ship must hold station in the eye of a cyclone. This requirement limits the speed of advance to the speed at which the storm is advancing, which may be a very low speed. It is difficult for ships to maintain a desired heading when advancing at very low speeds because the rudder loses control at very low speeds. The bow thruster 50 is useful to compensate for this loss of control.

The interior space 26 within the superstructure 16 provides a gallery in which the water feed lines and valves shown in FIG. 3 can be supported, along with all necessary electrical and other support systems. The systems may include the electric motors and compressed air facilities that are normally supplied with snow making nozzles. Crewmembers who operate and maintain the equipment can be stationed in this gallery, safe from external hostile weather elements. A watertight door 13 is provided between the tower 12 and the gallery space 26, giving crewmembers access to the gallery that does not require going out of protected space. The enclosed gallery space 26 allows service pipes and electrical conductors to be passed through the main deck 14 within the enclosed space; there is no need to perforate the main deck outside of that space. Watertight integrity can be enhanced by providing one or more bulkheads 25 across the gallery space; such bulkheads, if provided, will include watertight doors (not shown).

As used herein, the term ‘artificial snow’ includes any solid form of water regardless of whether it is an ice crystal or an ice particle and regardless of whether it is in the form of single crystals or particles or an agglomeration of multiple crystals or particles.

It is contemplated that in use a plurality of ships will be deployed in the water beneath the cyclonic eye to cooperate in the effort to deprive the cyclone of its driving force.

In FIG. 4 the projected path 112 of the hurricane is within an envelope 110. At its western end this envelope crosses the coastal regions of three states, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Many drilling platforms (not shown) are located in the waters in the approaches to these coastal regions. As FIG. 4 shows, hurricane Ike moved at a speed of advance that took it approximately six days to traverse its path from Cuba to these coastal regions. To illustrate this invention, the invention proposes to fit snow making devices to the fixed platforms located in the approaches to these coastal regions, and to operate those devices in a manner that takes advantage of the time interval between entry of a hurricane into the Gulf and its arrival in these coastal regions.

Referring now to FIG. 5, a platform 120 is fixed above the surface 122 of ocean water 124 on supports 126 extending to the ocean bottom 128. Snow making devices 130 are supported on rigid conduits 132 which are fixed to and extend through the platform 120 to a lower region 134 of the ocean, where the temperature of the water is lower than the water temperature at the surface 122. Each conduit 132 may have a pump 136 (shown in only one conduit) to draw water from the lower region 134 and feed that cooler water under pressure to the snow making devices 130. Each conduit is fitted with a strainer 138 at its lower end to prevent the ingestion of debris from the bottom 128.

When fed water at a low temperature snow making devices can generate clouds 140 of artificial snow. In warm or topical climates it is useful, sometimes necessary, to refrigerate the feed water to achieve efficient production of artificial snow. Drawing feed water from the lower ocean depths 134, as is taught in the present invention, diminishes the need to cool the feed water. This novel technique can be employed using rigid conduits as shown herein or flexible conduits (not shown).

A preferred mode of practicing the invention is to commence operating snow making machines aboard several of the drilling platforms in the projected path of a tropical cyclone when the approaching cyclone is still some distance away and moving platforms are already at work in the eye of the storm. In this mode, when the moving platforms, which will have done all that of which they are capable, arrive closer to landfall they will encounter a region in which the tendency of moisture to rise will already have been somewhat repressed, the combined efforts of the moving and the fixed platforms will yield a less furious landfall than would the efforts of the moving platforms acting alone.

It will be evident to those skilled in the art that the invention is not limited to the details of the foregoing illustrated embodiment and that the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof. The present embodiment is therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.

Claims

1-6. (canceled)

7. A method for reducing the wind force of a tropical cyclone that is moving over water in a discernible path, said method comprising operating in the vicinity of the eye of said cyclone at least one mechanism that is moving over said water in said path and is operable to reduce the heat that is available to said cyclone substantially continuously without interruption while so moving, and operating in a fixed location in said water in advance of said cyclone in said path at least one additional mechanism that is operable in addition to said one mechanism to further reduce the heat that will be available to said cyclone upon reaching said location.

8. A method according to claim 7 wherein said one mechanism includes a plurality of artificial snow making devices, said method comprising operating said devices simultaneously substantially continually and without interruption, and projecting the simultaneous output of said devices over said water substantially continually and without interruption during motion of said one mechanism over said water in said path.

9. A method according to claim 7 wherein said additional mechanism includes a plurality of artificial snow making devices supported on a deep-water drilling platform stationed in said location, said method including operating said devices to make artificial snow at least when said one mechanism is in operation in the vicinity of said platform, and projecting said artificial snow over said water surrounding said platform.

10. A method according to claim 9 comprising the step of drawing water supply for said devices from the depths below said platform where the water temperature is colder than the temperature of the surface water.

11. In an ocean region that is populated offshore with fixed location structures, a method for reducing the wind forces of a tropical cyclone that is approaching the general location of some of said structures, said method comprising operating on the ocean surface in the vicinity of said cyclone at least one mechanism capable of taking up and maintaining a station with respect to said cyclone and thereby moving with said cyclone and operating said mechanism continually and substantially without interruption during said approach to reduce the heat that is available to said cyclone in said vicinity, and during the approach of said cyclone toward said some structures simultaneously operating on at least one of said offshore structures that is in the path of said cyclone at least one additional mechanism installed on said at least one structure that is operable to reduce the heat that will be available to said cyclone upon reaching the location of said at least one structure.

12. A method according to claim 11 in which at least one of said mechanisms is a device that when operated makes artificial snow.

13. A method according to claim 11 in which each of said mechanisms is a device that when operated makes artificial snow.

14. A method of suppressing the wind-induced heat exchange of a tropical cyclone that is moving in a discernible path over an ocean region that is populated offshore with fixed-location drilling platforms including some platforms that are in said path, from which ocean moisture is rising, said method comprising providing at least one floating navigable vessel operable for moving over said ocean, and arming said vessel with multiple coolant making devices, said method further comprising controlling said devices to operate in concert and orienting said devices to project said coolant away from said vessel onto or above the surface of said ocean, and operating said vessel to move on said surface in said path toward said some offshore platforms while simultaneously controlling said devices to produce a substantially uninterrupted stream of said coolant, arming each of said some offshore platforms with additional multiple coolant making devices capable of making additional coolant and orienting said additional devices to direct said additional coolant into said moisture surrounding each said offshore platform, and as said cyclone approaches each of said offshore platforms operating said additional devices thereon so as to add the additional coolant thereof to the coolant being produced by said at least one vessel.

15. A method according to claim 14 employing artificial snow as coolant.

16. A device for dispensing a coolant supported at an elevation above the surface of ocean water in combination with a supporting mount that is substantially fixed in location relative to said surface, said device being oriented to dispense said coolant into moisture arising from said surface immediately surrounding said mount.

17. A combination according to claim 16 in which said device is operable to produce and dispense artificial snow.

18. A combination according to claim 17 in which said device is operable to produce artificial snow from subsurface ocean water.

19. A combination according to claim 16 in which said mount is a deep water drilling platform.

Patent History

Publication number: 20130043322
Type: Application
Filed: Oct 22, 2012
Publication Date: Feb 21, 2013
Inventor: Alfred Rosen (Dedham, MA)
Application Number: 13/657,059

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Snowmaking (239/2.2); Of Weather Control Or Modification (239/2.1); Weather Control (239/14.1); Snowmaking (239/14.2)
International Classification: A01G 15/00 (20060101);