UHM Physics Department Colloquia

The Rebirth of OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion)

by Dr Hans Krock (SOEST)



2505 Correa Road
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) uses the temperature difference between cooler deep and warmer shallow or surface seawaters to run a heat engine and produce useful work, usually in the form of electricity. Hawaii has a long history of successful OTEC research, testing and design. In the late 1980's the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it was not necessary to provide more R&D finding in that OTEC was ready for commercial development.
A small group of engineers in Hawaii took up the challenge and has developed a viable design for floating OTEC plants to produce base load electrical power, fresh water and hydrogen. Large scale use of this technology would not only be able to supply much of the world's energy in perpetuity but would also tend to reverse global warming.
Participating in this work have been several academic institutions, industrial entities and governmental organizations in the U.S., in Europe and in Asia. Significant participation has also been forthcoming from Pacific island nations (particularly the Republic of the Marshall Islands). Funding for much of this work has been through the U.S. military.
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