Postively Peculiar Patents: Harnessing Ocean Power

I have just discovered Google Patents:

As part of Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, we’re constantly working to expand the diversity of content we make available to our users. With Google Patent Search, you can now search the full text of the U.S. patent corpus and find patents that interest you.

It’s an interesting service that provides the pdf’s for all 7 million patents issued in the United States from the late 18th century through to 2006. So, given the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted the first license for a “hydrokinetic project” to a BC company (Finavera Renewables), I thought i’d take a look into the patented history of tidal energy (Hat tip: Blogfish). Apparently, inventors have been interested in harnessing wave and tidal energy for over a century.

I tried reading through a few of the patents, but found the writing incredibly opaque while the figures were very confusing (….what the hell are some of these things?). Beyond this, I think Schuyler (below the fold) may have had a bit of foresight lacking among the other inventors: “…the means for utilizing such power must be cheap…”

Here are a few examples:

Thomas S. Speakman’s Tidal Motor (1880):






Isaac St. Clair Goldman’s Ocean-Motor (1889):



Rudolph L. Johansen’s Machine for Utilizing Ocean-Power (1892):



Wilton S. Schuyler’s Ocean-Power (1897):



Nils S. Abrahamson’s Ocean-Power (1914):




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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: