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Identification of Naval Technologies Transferable to the Offshore Energy Industry
Project Number

Identify for the petroleum industry applicable U.S. Navy technology that may provide high-value, high-quality, and low-cost technologies that could improve U.S. oil production offshore. Apply these existing Navy-developed technologies to the needs of the petroleum industry.

The project was funded as a FY2003 non-competitive small purchase in response to a request from DOE HQ to assist in Federal interagency cooperation in technology transfer of U.S. Navy patents to the energy industry.


Houston Advanced Research Center 
Houston, TX


The overall objective of the project was to establish a methodology that identifies potential offshore energy industry applicable Navy technology. The secondary objective was to identify examples of currently available Navy technologies related to the offshore energy industry. Emphasis was given to technologies that have value to the Gulf of Mexico offshore and supporting maritime operations. Technologies identified should complement other technologies being developed by DOE and could improve domestic oil and gas supply. 

The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) was asked to analyze and catalog the patents based on the level of development and utility of each, and according to risk categories high (1) to low (9) related to development level. 

Project Results
The Navy Catalog, NAVSEA-Carderock has patented over six hundred inventions since 1980. This entire body of knowledge was organized into categories that relate directly to the offshore industry's existing needs. The project developed a catalog template and technology readiness index (TRL) of the Navy patents. Seven major technologies were identified and the patents cataloged, all of which have direct application to deep-water offshore exploration and production problems.

The Federal government and the U. S. Navy have spent millions of dollars and decades perfecting equipment and technologies for use of naval ships and underwater operations. Patents for a number of these technologies have been identified as no longer restricted by national security issues. Turning these patents over to the general public and specifically for use in ensuring production of adequate energy resources could be of benefit to the public and the oil and gas industry. The project demonstrated that the catalog can be used to effectively assist offshore energy industry in identification and transfer of useful technologies.

Project Summary
TRLs represent a checklist for monitoring the progress of a technology program and the expected impact it may have on industry use. A system of nine levels of preparedness for technologies to be transferred to industry has been established ranging from concepts to proven operations equipment. This system has been used to evaluate the patents and catalog them for further development and use. 


  • Basic Technology Research - basic principles observed and reported
  • Research to prove feasibility:
    - Concept or application formulated
    - Analytical and experimental proof-of- concept
  • Technology Development - bench configured system in laboratory environment
  • Technology Demonstration:
    - Component and/or bench configuration system validated
    - System/subsystem model or prototype built
  • System/subsystem development - system prototype demonstrated in an operational environment
  • System test and operation - system prove through successful operations

    The Blue Water Technology Program has been established by HARC to assist in transfer of the technologies to the energy industry. The Advisory Board has over twenty members from major and independent petroleum companies, service companies, and universities on the Advisory Board. Key objectives are to expand the catalog, and demonstrate its utility to the energy industry.

Major Technologies Cataloged

  • Underwater acoustic data acquisition
  • Attachment methodology for composite cylinder assembly
  • Acoustic and vibration attenuation composite material
  • Underwater Vehicle Guidance System and method
  • Split Face Mechanical Seal System
  • Neural Network system for estimating conditions on submerged surfaces of seawater vessels
  • Fatigue testing apparatus
Current Status

(December 2004)
The initial six-month project developed the NAVSEA-Carderock catalog and assigned TRLs to each patent. The project has been granted additional money through Federal appropriations to expand the catalog, and continue to transfer and demonstrate the value of the projects/patents. Plans for 2005 include Technology Transfer through workshops, tours and forums to showcase technologies available. 

Shared Technology Transfer Program

  • Nicholls State University
  • Houston Advanced Research Center
  • South Louisiana Economic Council's Advanced Technology Center
  • NAVSEA-Carderock

The final report for this project is available from DOE at 918-699-2000 or from the Houston Advanced Research Center website at

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Other Government Organizations Involved: U.S. Navy

Contact Information

NETL - Rhonda Jacobs ( or 918-699-2037)
HARC - Richard Hault ( or 281-363-7901)

Member companies of the Blue Water Technology Program.
Member companies of the Blue Water Technology Program.

Petroleum and natural gas reserves that lie in "ultra-deep" waters of the Gulf of Mexico are the focus of the world's oil and gas exploration industry. Yet, working in water depths exceeding 5,000 feet to find new reserves poses immense engineering, environmental and economic challenges. 

The U.S. Navy has spent decades developing technologies to facilitate operations in harsh deep-ocean conditions. Physical conditions that the Navy encountered for its submarine design, construction and operation are similar to the conditions now being addressed by the offshore energy industry.