Moving Away from Oil; Generating Energy from the Ocean

ScienceDaily — Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa say that the Leeward side of Hawaiian Islands may be ideal for future ocean-based renewable energy plants that would use seawater from the oceans' depths to drive massive heat engines and produce steady amounts of renewable energy.

The technology, referred to as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), is described in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, which is published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

It involves placing a heat engine between warm water collected at the ocean's surface and cold water pumped from the deep ocean. Like a ball rolling downhill, heat flows from the warm reservoir to the cool one. The greater the temperature difference, the stronger the flow of heat that can be used to do useful work such as spinning a turbine and generating electricity.

The history of OTEC dates back more than a half century. However, the technology has never taken off -- largely because of the relatively low cost of oil and other fossil fuels. But if there are any places on Earth where large OTEC facilities would be most cost competitive, it is where the ocean temperature differentials are the greatest.

Analyzing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Oceanographic Data Center, the University of Hawaii's Gérard Nihous says that the warm-cold temperature differential is about one degree Celsius greater on the leeward (western) side of the Hawaiian Islands than that on the windward (eastern) side.

This small difference translates to 15 percent more power for an OTEC plant, says Nihous, whose theoretical work focuses on driving down cost and increasing efficiency of future facilities, the biggest hurdles to bringing the technology to the mainstream.

"Testing that was done in the 1980s clearly demonstrates the feasibility of this technology," he says. "Now it's just a matter of paying for it."

More information in the project, see: http://hinmrec.hnei.hawaii.edu/ongoing-projects/otec-thermal-resource/

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803175019.htm

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1 comment:

  1. I wish the Austrlian Government will get away from drilling for oil in the oceans
    We have one of the most beautiful natural marine parks in the world in the Place called the Kimberly Coast Which is home to the world largest breeding ground for the Humpback whales it is also home for the Dugongs, Humpack Turtles Green Turtles and the Subfin Dolphins and many more so what are they going to do instead of making a marine park they agoing to put a large LNG processing hub right in the middle of it would believe Shell BP Cheveron & Woodside are the ones who are pushing for it
    Also there is another place called the Margarte River down Wester Australian Coast another Natural Marine park anad the Government has given the O.K to drill for oil there
    So if there is anyway you can help us please do so we need all the help we can
    The Wilderness Society has been great but the more people like you the better