Lafayette-based Truston Technologies was awarded two patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The first patent is technology to enhance the offshore cargo transfer, or lightering, between deeper draft vessels and smaller lightering vessels.
“This is a game changer," Erick Knezek, Truston’s managing partner, said in a June 21 press release, noting that the offshore mooring patent will put Truston on a different playing level when performing offshore cargo transfers worldwide.
"Vessels are only getting deeper, and the Panama Canal [expansion project] opened [in June] with a new Panamax depth of 50 feet,” Knezek said in the release. “Our invention will allow for offshore mooring fields to efficiently offload these vessels, saving shipping companies millions. This also opens up ports that traditionally would not be able to receive deeper draft vessels.”
Knezek went on to explain that when vessels have too deep a draft to transit navigable channels safely, they can be offloaded offshore. "The efficiency of offshore cargo transfer is governed by the relative motion of each vessel," he said. "We analyze the environmental forces along with the vessel motion in real time to optimize the vessel heading, [which] makes offloading operations more efficient.”
The second patent supplements coastal protection measures in areas with low-density soils, such as Louisiana’s unconsolidated marshlands.
“One of the unique problems facing coastal Louisiana is the relative low density of our marsh,” Knezek noted. “The state and Army Corps have implemented scores of projects to install stone riprap and heavy aggregates, only to see the project sink and vanish before their eyes.”
Knezek explained that traditional stone and concrete are simply too heavy, and that's where Truston's technology came into play. “We’ve engineered a solution that sits in the sweet spot. It is heavier than water but lighter than our mud. It is a hardening solution that simply sinks in water and floats on our mud,” he continued.
The official patent USP 9346520, System and Method for Offshore Loading of Cargo Vessels, was awarded to Knezek and his Truston Technologies partner, Matthew Marcy, along with William Stewart of Stewart Technologies Associates. The official patent USP 9347194, Lightweight Concrete Composition for Soil Stabilization, Especially in Shoreline and Waterbottom Areas, was awarded to Knezek and Marcy.
Both Truston Technologies and Stewart Technology Associates are ocean engineering firms.
Truston, which ranked No. 42 on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Private Companies in the region this year, also specializes in providing engineering, fabrication and installation services to the U.S. Navy and energy customers worldwide.