Santa Fe company using ocean waves to pump fresh water to third world countries

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A buoy system being designed right here in New Mexico could provide fresh water to hundreds of thousands of people living in third world countries.

Atmocean is a small business located in Santa Fe. Thanks to a program aimed at helping small businesses, a mechanical engineer from Sandia National Laboratories is helping turn their idea into a reality.

Atmocean’s system is a group of buoys the size of a football field that floats a mile and a half off the coastal communities.

The process is complex but what the system does is essentially remove the salt from the seawater.

Mechanical engineer Timothy Koehler has been working with Atmocean since February using special technology to nail down one design that will give them the best pumping performance.

“I use a software called Flow 3D to simulate the effect of ocean waves on the buoy structure. It then allows me to look at fluid forces and performance of buoys as it goes up and down over these waves,” said Koehler.

For years, Atmocean had been conducting a series of tests both out in the ocean in Peru and in wave tanks at Texas A&M. Officials have been logging those results and making changes along the way.

As a small business with limited resources and funding, they’re hoping that this partnership will nail down the final system.

“There’s a lot of companies out there that are trying to figure it out. So having this support in New Mexico is fundamental if we want to lead the pack in reaching that milestone,” said Christopher White, COO of Atmocean.

According to White,  the system pumps 50 million cubic feet of seawater to shore.

Atmocean officials are headed to Newfoundland to deploy a single pump which will be based on the results of their work with Sandia National Laboratories.

They’re hopeful that Koehler’s findings will result in their first pilot commercial system.

Atmocean is hoping to have the system commercialized by the end of 2018 depending on investors.

For more information on Atmocean, click here.

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