There'll be no piles of sediment here!

Steinbeis evaluates the licensing potential of a patented current redirection wall

Around two million cubic meters of silt and sand are deposited every year in the docks that form the Port of Hamburg. Most of this sediment accumulates right at the port entrance, due to the “teacup effect”. As the river flows past the harbor entrance, it generates a column of rotating eddies. Meanwhile, frictional forces on the river bed generate eddies directed towards the center of this column. If this process is allowed to continue without interruption, large quantities of silt and sand accumulate in the centre of these circular eddies, forming lenticular deposits several meters in height. As a result, sediment at the harbor entrance has to be dredged regularly to ensure the water is deep enough for vessels to pass – which is a costly business. The solution? A current redirection barrier (CRB). Steinbeis TIB Technologiebewertung und Innovationsberatung helped the inventor of this barrier to license his patents.

After exhaustive measurements and research, a construction to prevent circular eddies of this type at harbor entrances was tested using models. If successful, it would also prevent the accumulation of sediment due to the teacup effect. And that was exactly what happened: The new current redirection barrier stopped the circular eddies completely. Now, as the stream of the river passes the dock, some of the current is redirected into the channel created between the current redirection barrier and the bank.

Developed by Dr. Hermann Christiansen, the current redirection barrier was first piloted in the Köhlfleet dock in Hamburg until 1999. It is 150 m long and extends 1 m above the surface at the average high watermark. During the monitoring period, sedimentation conditions were determined using sonar and compared with those before the construction of the current redirection barrier. The results spoke for themselves:

  • Deposits fell by around 50% in the main sedimentation area.
  • The deposition pattern of sediment changed fundamentally. Instead of lenticular deposits, sediment was deposited evenly and had 50% less volume.
  • Vessels were easier to maneuver at the harbor entrance as the large circular eddies were gone.
  • Although the cost of constructing the CRB was around € 1.5 million, it saved annual dredging costs of € 1.9 million, thereby paying for itself and becoming profitable within a year.

Dr. Hermann Christiansen commissioned the Steinbeis TIB to assess the licensing potential of his international patents for building and operating the current redirection barrier. As the results were very positive, he agreed for the patent to be licensed via German patent company Alpha Patentfonds. As a partner to Alpha Patentfonds, Steinbeis TIB selects and evaluates patents with strong marketing potential. The Steinbeis TIB team includes experts from a variety of fields. As well as patent licensing, Steinbeis TIB also offers services such as research and evaluation of intellectual property rights, portfolio management and international property strategy consulting.

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