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Michael McLay

Chief technologist and founder of MJM Ocean Industries.

Michael McLay, grew up working in the family's grain storage and feed business. As a small child he was fascinated by the construction projects in which cranes and work crews were erecting new storage bins and grain dryers. His first six years of work experience involved heavy equipment used in handle bulk grain. He worked as a millwright on several expansion projects for the family business.  During this period he designed and built equipment required to meet new safety and pollution regulations.

Following the completion of an engineering degree he joined a satellite systems integration team working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Facility. Michael developed methods for simulating the deployment of satellites using 3D computer animation tool that was originally developed for designing the operation of robotic work cells on a factory floor. The experience of working with satellite systems engineers prompted an interest in autonomous systems and designing systems as a whole. The NASA experience was bracketed by nearly twenty years of working in factory automation research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Michael started working at NIST in 1981. It was an exciting time at the laboratory. Factory robots, computers, and communications networks were hot research topics in the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory. He worked in the Automated Manufacturing Research Facility just prior to joining the satellite integration team working at NASA Goddard. Michael returned to NIST to work on international standards for product model data exchange. The systems engineering and factory automation experience contributed to the development of many of the ideas he has incorporated into his designs for open ocean energy platforms.

Following the NIST experience Michael return to the private sector and started a consulting business. While paying the bills by writing scientific software as a consultant, spare time has been devoted to research and develop of highly scalable sustainable energy resources. This research uncovered opportunities to simply make innovative improvements on renewable energy concepts that had been explored as part of government research projects during the early years of the Department of Energy. Budget cutbacks caused these programs to be abandoned in the early 1980s, but the core research provided a perfect starting point for a new generation of inventions. An innovative new method for producing a cold water pipe for use on ocean thermal energy platforms was the first invention. A novel configuration of wind energy platform that would operate in remote locations of the ocean was the second invention. A third invention revamps the design of an open ocean kelp farm that was first publicized in Popular Science in 1975. Current research is focused on the application of process intensification to high temperature material processing in which process heat is provided by molten salt nuclear reactors. The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment at ORNL provided proof of concept, Unfortunately funding for molten salt reactors was dropped and the ORNL design for a 1GWe molten salt reactor power plant was put on the shelf.