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Florida Atlantic University Receives $5 Million to Study Ocean Currents as Energy Source.

SciTech21-17 November 2006-Florida Atlantic University Receives $5 Million to Study Ocean Currents as Energy Source(C)2006 JeraOne -

Florida Atlantic University has been selected by the Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board to receive $5 million to study the feasibility of using ocean currents as possible renewable energy resource.

The funds will allow FAU to establish The Florida Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology. The new center will be FAU's second Center of Excellence -- its first Center of Excellence in Biomedical and Marine Biotechnology was established in 2003.

Ranked in second place, the university is among six others in Florida that have been selected out of 32 proposals submitted to the Board. Each of the centers of excellence will be funded with money appropriated by the Florida Legislature under the 21st Century Technology, Research and Enhancement Act. The Florida Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida met on Thursday to review and approve the recommendations of the Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board.

The Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology will address Florida's energy crisis by looking at South Florida's ocean currents, specifically the Gulf Stream (the most energy dense ocean current), as an abundant renewable energy source to meet not just Florida's power needs but also the world's power needs.

As one of the fastest growing states, Florida's electricity consumption is estimated to increase by nearly 30 percent over the next 10 years. In-state energy production is less than one percent of consumption, leaving the state heavily reliant on imported sources of energy.

"The major objective of funding these centers of excellence is to stimulate Florida's economy and have a significant impact on creating a highly skilled workforce," said Frank T. Brogan, president of FAU. "We are very proud to be among the universities selected for a center of excellence. The great research occurring at FAU will help move us closer to providing a better quality of life for our community, state, nation and the world."

Brogan said ocean-generated electricity would create a new industry and over 26,500 new Florida-based jobs, "changing Florida from an energy importer to a leader in energy exports."

"This funding will lead to the establishment of a world-class center that will revolutionize future energy production on our planet," said Dr. Larry F. Lemanski, vice president for research at FAU and principal offeror of FAU's new center of excellence. "We are very excited about developing these innovative, energy-producing technologies, and we have put together a strong partnership base composed of industrial, academic and government partners to accomplish our goals and mission for our new center of excellence."

FAU will work with the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Florida Power & Light, Ocean Renewable Power, Lockheed Martin, Clipper Windpower, Oceaneering, Aquantis, the University of Central Florida, Nova Southeastern University and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in establishing the center.

Dr. Rick Driscoll, associate professor in FAU's department of ocean engineering and co-principal technical personnel for the project, will co-lead the project with Dr. Manhar Dhanak, professor and chair of the department of ocean engineering at FAU and co-principal technical personnel for the project.

"This new industry will provide a clean, reliable, and renewable source of energy that can be used to generate electricity, unlimited hydrogen and potable water, as well as provide alternative methods for residential cooling or A/C," said Driscoll.

Added Dhanak, "To harness ocean energy for power is a laudable goal for any ocean engineer. This is a really exciting opportunity for our department."

The Florida Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology will be housed at FAU's SeaTech -- Institute for Oceans & Systems Engineering in Dania Beach, Florida. The Institute is part of FAU's Department of Ocean Engineering, located within the College of Engineering & Computer Science.

The six universities selected to receive a center of excellence include the University of South Florida; Florida Atlantic University; University of Florida (two centers); University of Central Florida; and Florida State University.

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Date:Nov 17, 2006
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