NOAA Patented Technologies Available for Licensing

NOAA patented technologies that are available for non-exclusive or exclusive licensing only.

Turtle Excluder Device shown shipboard.

Clean Harvest Cable Grid

The NOAA patented Clean Harvest Cable Grid (US Patent 10,966,415 B2) allows marine mammals, including sea turtles and other large marine animals, to escape from large fish trawls with minimal impact to normal fishing operations or target catch retention. The Type I (TI) shown above was designed to work in high profile fish trawls. NOAA has patented this technology and is making it available under an Open Source license to ensure designs are compliant and do not harm sea turtles or other marine mammals. For more information, please contact Nick Hopkins at NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

S Curved Time of Flight Chamber

S-Curve Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer

US Patent 9,751,431 – Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Patent Licenses Available Time-of‐flight mass spectrometers are commonly used in analytical chemistry and many other applications. They contain a region where ions travel toward a detector. NOAA scientists have developed a new geometry that has improved performance over existing designs. The new innovation is to use two successive sectors, with the second one reversed, in a geometry resembling an “s”. The result is that the output ion beam is parallel to the input ion beam and that the entire geometry folds into a very compact volume. A second benefit to the design is that certain higher-order aberrations cancel when the ion beam makes two identical but opposed turns (e.g. a right-hand turn followed by a left-hand turn). NOAA is seeking qualified licensees to manufacture and sell this US Patent Pending device.  Interested companies should contact the NOAA TPO at noaa.t2@noaa.gov for more information.  Shaped Time of Flight Chamber. Machined prototype. Credit: NOAA

Lionfish gather around purse trap deployed under the ocean

NOAA Awarded U.S. Patent for Innovative Lionfish Trap

Device could help protect threatened ecosystems and aid fishing communities The Challenge Over the last 20 years, invasive lionfish populations have dramatically increased throughout the western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Lionfish have already caused a decline in native species that have significant ecological, cultural, and commercial value. Further impacts on coral reefs and other important ecosystems are anticipated, but not yet fully understood. Fortunately, as the threat of lionfish has intensified, so too have the levels of awareness and concern among not just scientists and fishers, but among members of the public. In recent years, state-sponsored lionfish fishing derbies have incentivized divers to remove lionfish from coastal waters, and the growing demand for this tasty and widely-promoted sustainable seafood has surpassed the supply. Although spearfishing has proven to be an effective approach for managing populations in shallow areas, lionfish remain uncontrolled in deeper waters, where they continue to threaten fragile ecosystems (and evade dinner plates). Therefore, there is a demonstrated need and resounding demand for effective, non-destructive ways to capture lionfish that linger beyond recreational scuba depths. Innovative Solution NOAA’s recently-patented lionfish trap could be a solution that offers both ecological and commercial benefits. The trap is shaped like a change purse and is constructed primarily out of a hinged steel frame, attached netting, and a centrally-located vertical panel called a “fish attraction device”. Once deployed from the surface, the lionfish trap descends vertically through the water until it hits the bottom, where two curved extensions cause the jaws to spring open and lay flat on the bottom. The fish attraction device is then revealed, drawing lionfish towards the center of the six-foot diameter net. Later, the trap can be recovered by pulling on a surface line, which closes the trap’s hinged jaws and captures the fish within the ring of netting. This innovative technology was designed with specific operational and conservation-related goals in mind, and as a result, has several benefits over conventional fish traps. For example, the lionfish trap’s open non-containment design prevents “ghost fishing,” which is when gear “continues to fish” after being lost or abandoned. The lack of bait in the trap minimizes by-catch, or the capture of unwanted fish. Furthermore, the trap causes minimal damage to the ocean floor, is easily transportable on fishing boats due to its flat design, and is relatively simple to construct, deploy, and retrieve. Pathway to patent The lionfish trap was invented by Dr. Steve Gittings, who serves as the Chief Scientist of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program. Gittings first had the idea for the trap in 2014, after attending a colleague’s presentation about modifying lobster traps so they could be used for deep-water lionfish capture. Looking at her photos, Gittings noticed that lionfish were present, but far more were hovering around the trap than inside it, and that inspired the idea to design a trap that would take advantage of lionfishes’ tendency to aggregate around vertical structures. “It started in my garage as a PVC cube,” said Gittings, who describes himself as a “Garagineer”. Over the next couple of years, the invention progressed through several phases of design and testing, during which the trap was modified to be less bulky, easier to deploy, and more enticing to lionfish. Throughout the process, Gittings engaged recreational and commercial fishermen from numerous places, including Florida, North Carolina, Aruba, Mexico, and Belize. Incorporating the input and expertise of these partners allowed Gittings to improve the lionfish trap so that it meets everyone’s needs. In addition to NOAA, much of the testing of the trap prototypes was supported by donations and funds from Lionfish University, ReefSave, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and involved numerous volunteers and graduate students. The patent for Gittings’ trap, formally known as the “Apparatus for Harvesting Lionfish,” was filed in April 2018 and issued in February 2021. The role of technology transfer Initially, Gittings did not consider patenting the trap. He explained, “My interest in developing these traps, as a civil servant, was to keep it as open-source as possible, so that anybody can use these to not only help support their fishermen, but to protect ecosystems around the Caribbean”. Gittings reached out to NOAA’s Technology Partnerships Office (TPO) after a colleague recommended that he speak with someone about potentially patenting the trap. TPO is NOAA’s research-to-commercialization office. Among other functions, TPO helps NOAA inventors patent their scientific and technological innovations and transfer them into the commercial marketplace, where they can more broadly impact ecosystems, communities, and economies. After speaking with TPO’s Technology Transfer Program Manager, as well as a representative from the NIST General Counsel Office, Gittings said he realized that the best way to continue testing and improving the trap so that he could accomplish his goals was to “get control over the trap through patenting so that nobody else could stop us.” Gittings expressed gratitude for the support he received during the process of filing for the patent. “They interpreted everything I told them, going through every detail of the trap, and then put them on paper in language that the Patent Office understands. It was absolutely essential to have them do that work.” Looking ahead Gittings’ long-term vision for the lionfish traps, should they prove to be an effective conservation method, is for fishers to use the traps outside of their primary fishing season. In using these lionfish traps, he said, “The fishermen would be supplementing their income and be doing conservation at the same time.” Gittings added that a supplemental fishery targeting lionfish could also reduce the pressure on native species, such as snapper and grouper, which are overfished in some areas. And of course, commercial use of the trap would provide an environmentally-friendly and reliable harvest for the seafood industry and its hungry customers. If the lionfish trap is successful, it will serve as another example of how technology transfer at NOAA contributes to realizing the agency’s guiding vision of healthy and resilient ecosystems, communities, and economies. The next step is to determine whether the traps are effective for controlling lionfish populations in deep water habitats; the prototypes were tested at depths of about 100 feet, but lionfish can be very abundant down to several hundred feet below the surface. In October 2020, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) received a NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Competitive Grant to pursue this research and commercialization testing. REEF plans to collaborate with members of the Florida Keys lobster fishing community and test and improve various aspects of trap design, deployment, and long-term effectiveness.

Four Channel Cavity Ringdown NOy Detector

The instrument has lower power, size, weight, and vacuum requirements than a chemiluminescence-based instrument while approaching its sensitivity, precision and time response. In the NOy CRDS instrument of the present invention, NOy and its components are converted into NO2 by thermal decomposition (TD) in a fused silica inlet (henceforth referred to as quartz, following convention), followed by the addition of ozone to convert NO to NO2. NO2 is then measured using a cavity ring-down spectroscopy instrument, utilizing a 405 nm laser. The device may comprise four parallel channels, each driven by the same laser, to measure NO, NO2, NOy and O3, respectively, such that overall NOy may be measured, as well as its components NO, NO2, as well as ozone (O3).

A UAV-based active AirCore system for measurements of greenhouse gases

A UAV-based active AirCore system for measurements of greenhouse gases We developed and field-tested an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based active AirCore for atmospheric mole fraction measurements of CO2, CH4, and CO. The system applies an alternative way of using the AirCore technique invented by NOAA. As opposed to the conventional concept of passively sampling air using the atmospheric pressure gradient during descent, the active AirCore collects atmospheric air samples using a pump to pull the air through the tube during flight, which opens up the possibility to spatially sample atmospheric air. The active AirCore system used for this study weighs ∼ 1.1 kg. It consists of a ∼ 50 m long stainless-steel tube, a small stainless-steel tube filled with magnesium perchlorate, a KNF micropump, and a 45 µm orifice working together to form a critical flow of dried atmospheric air through the active AirCore. A cavity ring-down spectrometer (CRDS) was used to analyze the air samples on site not more than 7 min after landing for mole fraction measurements of CO2, CH4, and CO. We flew the active AirCore system on a UAV near the atmospheric measurement station at Lutjewad, located in the northwest of the city of Groningen in the Netherlands. Five consecutive flights took place over a 5 h period on the same morning, from sunrise until noon. We validated the measurements of CO2 and CH4 from the active AirCore against those from the Lutjewad station at 60 m. The results show a good agreement between the measurements from the active AirCore and the atmospheric station (N = 146; R2CO2: 0.97 and R2CH4: 0.94; and mean differences: ΔCO2: 0.18 ppm and ΔCH4: 5.13 ppb). The vertical and horizontal resolution (for CH4) at typical UAV speeds of 1.5 and 2.5 m s−1 were determined to be ±24.7 to 29.3 and ±41.2 to 48.9 m, respectively, depending on the storage time. The collapse of the nocturnal boundary layer and the buildup of the mixed layer were clearly observed with three consecutive vertical profile measurements in the early morning hours. Besides this, we furthermore detected a CH4 hotspot in the coastal wetlands from a horizontal flight north to the dike, which demonstrates the potential of this new active AirCore method to measure at locations where other techniques have no practical access. View/Download Article   Andersen, T., Scheeren, B., Peters, W., and Chen, H.: A UAV-based active AirCore system for measurements of greenhouse gases, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 2683–2699, https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-2683-2018, 2018.