Alternative Energy from the Ocean

Alternative Energy from the Ocean


The Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) was compiled by French engineer Jacques D'Arsonval in 1881. However, at the time of this writing the Hawaii Natural Energy Laboratory was home to the only experimental OTEC plant operating on the face of the earth. . OTEC is a potential alternative energy source that needs to be funded and explored far more than at present. The big obstacle to completing the implementation of OTEC on a broad and practically useful level is cost. It is difficult to reduce costs to a reasonable level because of the processes currently used to drive OTEC. Ocean heat energy will burn very clean and not add pollutants to the air. However, because it currently needs to be regulated by our current technology, the OTEC plant will have the capacity to disrupt and possibly damage the local environment.

There are three types of OTEC.

"Closed Cycle OTEC" uses a low boiling point liquid such as, for example, propane to act as an intermediate liquid. The OTEC plant pumps warm sea water into the reaction chamber and boils the intermediate liquid. This produces a liquid vapor between the engine turbines, which in turn produces electricity. The steam is then cooled by entering cold sea water.

"Open Cycle OTEC" is not much different from closed cycling, except in Open Cycle there is no intermediary liquid. Seawater itself is the driving force of the turbine engine in this OTEC format. Warm sea water found at sea level is converted to low-pressure steam under vacuum pressure. Low pressure steam is released in the focused area and has the power to drive the turbine. To cool the steam and make desalination water for human consumption, deeper ocean cold water is added to the steam after producing enough electricity.

"Hybrid Cycle OTEC" is actually just a theory for now. It seeks to illustrate the way we can make maximum use of thermal energy from ocean waters. There are actually two sub-theories with Hybrid Cycling theory. The first involves the use of closed cycling to produce electricity. This electricity is in turn used to create the vacuum environment needed for open cycling. The second component is the integration of two open cycles so that twice the amount of water that can be drunk, is made with only one open cycle.

Besides being used to produce electricity, closed cycle OTEC plants can be used to treat chemicals. The OTEC plant, both open and closed cycling, can also be used to pump cold deep sea water which can then be used for cooling and air conditioning. Furthermore, during the moderation period when sea water surrounds plants, attached can be used for aquaculture and aquaculture projects such as fish farming. There are clearly a range of products and services that we can get from this alternative energy source.

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