Float Inc.- BergerABAM (EGT2)

San Diego, CA

Team Photo for Float Inc.- BergerABAM

Date Accepted

Wed 03 Jun 2015

Team Info

The Float Inc. - BergerABAM team will be led by Neal A. Brown, PhD and Markus Wernli, PhD, PE.

While the primary technical efforts in the Energy Prize phase of the work will be those of Float Inc., we feel that the early involvement of our implementation team is essential for attaining the long term goal of successful technology commercialization. Dr. Neal Brown will provide the technical leadership for the Energy Prize phase of this project and Dr. Markus Wernli will provide the necessary program management for the effort.

WEC Device Type

The “Rho-Cee” WEC, Impedance-Matched, Optimized Multi-Band Oscillating Water Column Terminator.

Team Quote

Our first objective, given a satisfactory competitive result is to address the following:

The shipping channel across the Columbia River Bar (CRB) is the access and the egress path for shipping utilizing the Columbia River ports, particularly Portland, Oregon. This exclusive shipping path is subject to closures for safety reasons during winter months due to dangerously high sea-states driven by south-westerly storm winds. Historically, the bar channel may be closed 12 days per year, on average.

We suggest that these closures result in a loss of 3% of the potential maritime business of the Columbia River ports, principally that of the Port of Portland – with consequences to all of the associated and derivative business activities in the northwest region. Further, the idling of ships, both offshore when inbound, or in the lower Columbia River when outbound represents an unrecovered expense to the international shippers who frequent the Columbia River ports – an expense that ultimately is compensated by increased shipping rates that are passed on as expenses to the exporters and importers in the northwest region, as well as domestic and international consumers.

This situation demands remedy, we suggest, by an array of moored, floating WEC-equipped breakwater spans that are designed to remediate winter storm sea-states on the CRB to a degree that eliminates the need for navigation channel closures – in a manner that is economic as measured against the spreading costs of closures at current rates of occurrence. Further, such a system of WEC-breakwaters must perform by absorbing, rather than reflecting, wave energy – and thereby producing electric power as a salable product. The WEC-type must perform year-round to produce a power product that may partly, if not wholly, repay the capital cost and support the ongoing maintenance costs of the installation over a long lifetime.

Team Bios

Neal A. Brown PhD. Chief Technology Officer, Float Inc.

Expertise: Naval architecture and applied hydrodynamics. Inventor and developer of the Rho-Cee WEC.

With a PhD in naval architecture from MIT and more than 50 years of experience developing systems for operations in the marine environment, Neal Brown brings to this effort his long history of innovation for infrastructure that must provide reliable performance in ocean conditions.

His development and testing of the pneumatically stabilized platform (PSP) under the DARPA Mobil Offshore Base program provided important insights, which he has applied in the theoretical development and preliminary physical testing of the Rho-Cee WEC.

His activities related to the operating marine environment have resulted in a focus on practicality, durability, and maintainability of the concepts he develops for offshore operation.

Neal is an entrepreneur with the experience and insight necessary to move value adding concepts from the idea stage all the way to successful commercialization.

Markus Wernli, PhD, P.E. Senior Project Manager, BergerABAM

Expertise: Offshore floating infrastructure design, technology qualification, and program management.

Markus Wernli offers 24 years of experience in structural and marine concept development, design, and certification of advanced structures for renewable energy applications. He has specific background in design using advanced composite materials, and in design and construction support for floating facilities constructed of durable marine grade prestressed concrete.

His experience include concept validations of bottom founded near shore WEC’s as well as floating moored structures for both near shore and offshore applications. He has lead extensive efforts involving their party certification by DEN and GL of high performance prestressed concrete structures designed for wave and other complex loading environments from tropical ocean environments to the arctic offshore.

Markus has managed multidiscipline offshore facility design projects for several major energy companies and has been involved in NREL sponsored design efforts. He has experience with large scale structural testing and results analysis as result of his PhD work at University of California San Diego.

Benjamin B. Ackers, PE, Principal, Ocean Engineering & Analysis

Expertise: Offshore Renewable Platform Design and Technology Development, Hydro-elastic Response

Benjamin (Ben) Ackers offers 17 years of marine industry experience. He leads Glosten’s Ocean Engineering & Analysis group, and has contributed to projects involving vessel stability, maneuvering, seakeeping, resistance and propulsion, finite element analysis, dynamic loads analysis, structural fatigue, wake wash, and transportation system modeling and analysis. His expertise includes economic optimization of marine renewable energy systems, hydrodynamics, vibration, marine structural dynamics, mooring system design and analysis, marine synthetic fibers, offshore structures, and marine system integration.

Ben’s leadership of Glosten’s offshore wind energy efforts include serving as Chief Engineer of the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) Demonstration Platform FEED Study for PelaStar™, a tension leg platform (TLP) technology conceived by Glosten and completed in 2015 to minimize the cost of wind energy in deepwater offshore sites. Ben represented PelaStar in the DNV Joint Industry Project to develop the DNV-OS-J103 design standard for floating wind turbine structures. Two patents are pending on PelaStar technology. Ben was also Project Manager for the front-end engineering design (FEED) of an Intermediate-scale TLP floating wind turbine for the University of Maine.

From 2001-2006, Ben served as the Project Manager for converting a bare deck semi-submersible platform to the Missile Defense Agency’s Sea-based X-Band Radar (SBX) Platform. He contributed directly to the structural design, seakeeping and operability analyses, an extensive resistance and seakeeping model test program, dynamic loads and finite element analyses, a comprehensive vibration analysis, and vibration isolation system design. From 2006-2009, he served as Glosten’s Program Manager for sustaining SBX Platform design and engineering support.

Ben has contributed to two Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) SNAME Transactions papers applying the concepts of statistical principal axis theory to structural fatigue and dynamic loads analysis.

Thomas Mathai, PhD, Senior Associate, Ocean Engineering & Analysis

Expertise: Hydrodynamic Loads, Hydro-elastic Response, IEC participation

Dr. Thomas Mathai offers nearly 30 years of experience in ocean engineering and analysis, including 22 years at Glosten specializing in the hydrodynamic analysis of floating structures and numerical simulations of ship maneuvering.

Thomas has contributed to projects that include floating docks, floating bridges, multiple-hull vessels, floating bodies with external forces/constraints, and interconnected floating bodies. He has developed hydrodynamic load definitions for structural analysis and implemented an efficient generalized modes approach to determine the Dominant Load Parameters in the ABS Dynamic Loading Approach for SWATH vessels.

Thomas has been the principal investigator for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects: (1) a concept study of a highline gondola system, using dynamic positioning and a constant-tension winch for the transfer of personnel from vessels to offshore wind towers, and (2) an Office of Naval Research sponsored program to research an innovative concept for a very large floating breakwater in support of Navy lightering operations.

As a member of TC 114 US Shadow Committee for the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Thomas wrote a section on wave loads in the draft design requirements for marine energy systems. Thomas also serves on the International Professional Advisory Panel for the Department of Ocean & Resources Engineering at the University of Hawaii, and the Technical Program Committee for the International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers.

Prior to joining Glosten, Thomas served as junior engineer in the Offshore Design Office of Mazagon Dock Limited in Bombay, India. During his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia, he developed computer programs for wave loading and run-up predictions for offshore platforms, calculation of the motion response of marine vessels, and prediction of wave fields within harbors and laboratory wave basins.

John Cross-Whiter, PE, Senior Associate, Ocean Engineering & Analysis

Expertise: Hydro-elastic Response, Mooring Analysis, CFD

John Cross-Whiter has over 25 years of experience in computational fluid dynamics (CFD), ship motions analysis, structural dynamic analysis, mooring analysis, numerical hydrodynamics, and model basin testing.

John serves as the lead analyst for simulation of the mooring tensions, motions and loads performance of PelaStar™, a tension leg platform (TLP) technology conceived by Glosten and completed in 2015. John currently leads a Glosten team supporting ALSTOM in the development of advanced control systems for offshore floating wind turbines, under DOE Prime Contract Award DE-EE0005494. He has extensive experience in aero-hydrodynamic modeling of moored floating wind turbines, and is an expert in modeling bespoke mooring systems in Orcaflex.

John managed the CFD analysis of over 40,000 hull forms for an Ocean Class Research Vessel. Using multi-objective optimization techniques the selected hull form realized a significant reduction in resistance and required propulsion power while also tracking streamlines in the forebody to minimize the tendency for bubble sweepdown over the sonar transducer. John wrote the model testing program for testing resistance and propulsion, cavitation, and bubble sweepdown effects.

John participated in the CFD analysis used to predict the detailed 3D wake field in the propeller plane for use in the detailed design of a wake-adapted, acoustic grade propeller. The analysis was used for the hull, superstructure, and above-waterplane appurtenances to minimize disturbance of the ambient wind field and identify locations for air sampling instrumentation. John wrote the model testing program that tested for resistance, propulsion, and maneuvering.

John’s other project experience includes non-linear, time domain dynamic analysis of the Missile Defense Agency’s Sea-based X-Band Radar semi-submersible radar platform mooring system, and analysis of wave-induced hull bending moments on a naval vessel to be used as a radar platform.

Justin Morgan, PE, Principal, Ocean Engineering & Analysis

Expertise: CFD, Hydro-elastic Response

Justin Morgan is the lead principal for Glosten’s Ocean Engineering & Analysis group. He offers over 20 years of naval architecture and engineering experience, including stability and damage survival assessment, resistance and propulsion determination, and structural system integration. Justin is responsible for maintenance and development of the firm’s technical and analytic capabilities in addition to general project oversight.

With a select group of engineers, Justin leads Glosten’s Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) efforts utilizing the Numeca FINE™ / Marine software. CFD assists in optimizing hull form development to minimize vessel resistance, improve seakeeping performance, and optimize other design constraints. Justin oversees CFD efforts ranging from analyses on new vessel designs to specific CFD-focused projects.

Justin has participated in the dynamic analysis of the State of Washington floating bridges. He has performed extensive work in the area of structural failure analysis and environmental loads assessment for terminal and dock facilities.

Justin was instrumental in the development of Glosten’s mooring design and analysis capabilities, leading both pilot projects and marketing efforts. Most recently, these capabilities have supported Orcaflex mooring analysis efforts for a shipyard in Singapore and a single point mooring buoy design for emergency use in Alaska.

Justin has provided project management and naval architectural support for both new construction and refit projects involving research vessels, ferries, tugs, barges, and various floating structures. This work has included a wide range of responsibilities, including hull form development, arrangement details, ship motions analysis, specification writing, the coordinating of regulatory body approvals, and construction support. He has contributed to ocean engineering projects involving climatological studies, mooring design and analysis, hydrodynamic loading, tug performance, and risk assessment.

Edward P. Garrahy, PE, C/E, Marine Engineer

Expertise: Mechanical Systems and Controls

With 20 years of prior marine industry experience, Ed Garrahy is a technically proficient marine engineer with broad vessel operations, project management, and advanced systems engineering expertise.

Ed joined Glosten in 2014 after collaborating with the firm on numerous projects starting in 2001. As a Glosten consultant, Ed contributed to the development of a Ballast Treatment/Exchange Verification System for the US Coast Guard. Working as a controls subcontractor, he led the effort to design, fabricate, and install integrated controls for several Glosten projects. He also co-authored a study with Glosten engineers that considered the feasibility of conversion of marine auxiliary boiler plants from heavy fuel oil to distillate fuels in advance of EPA ECA rules.

Recent project experience includes serving as Lead Engineer and Project Manager for the controls component of a shipboard carbon adsorber Vapor Processing System. Controls included extensive gas monitoring and process control in a Class 1 Div 1 Classified Area, and included database logging, automated reporting, and remote system access.

Prior to joining Glosten, Ed developed his expertise in the area of marine controls as he advanced to senior managing engineer at Technical Marine Service. In this role, Ed was responsible for the operational management of a 20-person marine controls contracting firm, as well as numerous specific marine integration and consulting projects. Ed possesses a thorough knowledge of current and legacy marine control systems, control methodologies, and failure analysis techniques, and is well versed in the practical integration of modern control hardware.


Float Inc. is a small high technology organization known for their development of the pneumatically stabilized platform (PSP) concept that was considered and successfully tested for the DARPA Mobil Offshore Base concept.

BergerABAM and Float Inc. have a working relationship that extends over nearly 20 years. The folks at Float are also the inventors/developers of the Rho-Cee WEC that is the subject of this proposal.

BergerABAM is a 250 person consulting firm with a specialty in marine and offshore facility design and the planning and environmental capabilities necessary to support that work. BergerABAM’s staff includes structural specialists, civil engineers, environmental planners, and natural resource specialists, all with a focus on marine work. BergerABAM is 50.1% owned by Louis Berger one of the largest US based consulting firms with offices worldwide. The remaining ownership of BergerABAM is by its employee shareholders. Learn more about BergerABAM at their website: http://www.abam.com

  • Float Inc - Berger ABAM testing at University of Maine

    Posted on Mon 18 Jan 2016

    Prep work completed, we are now under test (and looking good!) at the Wave Basin, the University of Maine’s Harold Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab. Heartfelt thanks for physical and moral support provided by Anthony Viselli, Director; Curtis Libby, Matt Cameron, and all the others who have pitched in - making this possible.

    1/50th scale device in basin
    1/50th scale device in basin

DISCLAIMER: The team information provided on this page is provided solely by Float Inc.- BergerABAM. The Wave Energy Prize is not responsible for its accuracy, legality, decency of material or intellectual-property compliance.

Back to Teams

EERE. Wave Energy Prize. U.S. Department of Energy. Nov, 2017, 09:07 EST. Available at: https://waveenergyprize.org/. Accessed Nov, 2017.

EERE. "Wave Energy Prize." waveenergyprize.org. U.S. Department of Energy, November. 2017. Web. November. 2017.

EERE. "Wave Energy Prize," waveenergyprize.org, U.S. Department of Energy, https://waveenergyprize.org/ (accessed Nov, 2017).

EERE. Wave Energy Prize [Internet]. waveenergyprize.org; 2017 November, 09:07 EST [cited 2017 November]. Available from: https://waveenergyprize.org/

@ONLINE{U.S. Department of Energy:2017:Online, author = {EERE}, title = {Wave Energy Prize [email protected]}}, year = {2017}, url = {https://waveenergyprize.org/}, note = [Online; accessed Nov-2017] }