Archive for February, 2010

Another Alternative Energy from the Ocean

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion is what we are talking about here or (OTEC). It is a potential energy source of the future. However, at the present time the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii is home to the only operating experimental OTEC plant in the world.

There are three kinds of OTEC.

Alternative EnergyClosed Cycle OTEC
Closed cycle OTEC uses a low-boiling point liquid such as propane to act as an intermediate fluid. The OTEC plant pumps warm sea water from the surface of the ocean into the reaction chamber and uses it to boil the intermediate fluid. This results in the intermediate fluid’s vapor pushing the turbine of the engine, which thus generates electricity. The vapor is then cooled down by using cold sea water from the oceans depth.

Open Cycle OTEC
Open cycle OTEC is not that different from closed cycling, except with the Open Cycle there is no intermediate fluid. It uses the sea water itself to drive the turbine engine. Again using warm sea water found on the surface of the ocean and then turning it into a low-pressure vapor under the constraint of a vacuum. Then by releasing the low-pressure vapor in a focused area it has the power to drive the turbine. Then after it has generated sufficient electricity the deep cold ocean’s waters are used to cool down the vapor and also create desalinated water for human consumption.

Alternative EnergyHybrid Cycle OTEC
There is also a hybrid cycle OTEC that is really just a theory for the time being. The theory is to make maximum usage of the thermal energy of the ocean’s waters. Actually there are two sub-theories to the theory of Hybrid Cycling.
The first involves using a closed cycling to generate electricity. This electricity is in turn used to create the vacuum environment needed for open cycling.
The second idea is to integrate two open cycles such that twice the amount of desalinated water is created then with just one open cycle.

Some Additional Advantages of OTEC
– In addition to a closed cycle OTEC plant being used for producing electricity, it can be used for treating chemicals.
– Both open cycling and closed cycling OTEC plants, are also able to be utilized for pumping up cold deep sea water which can then be used for refrigeration and air conditioning.
– Furthermore, during the period when the sea water is moderated and made ready to go back into the sea, it can be used for mariculture (a specialized branch of aquaculture) and aquaculture projects such as fish farming.
There is clearly quite an array of products and services that we could derive from this alternative energy source.

OTEC is a potential alternative energy source that needs to be explored much more than it presently has been. And this exploration needs to be funded better in order to discover cost effective ways of utilizing it. The greatest hurdle to get over with OTEC implementation on a wide and practical level is cost. With the processes presently being used to drive OTEC it is difficult to get the costs down to a reasonable level. The advantage of Ocean Thermal Energy would be it is very clean burning and would not add pollutants into the air. However, with our current technologies, OTEC plants would disrupt and perhaps damage the local water environments.

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