[NetBehaviour] The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Sat May 28 13:05:46 CEST 2005
*The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea *
By Carl Hoffman
Unlimited energy. Fast-growing fruit. Free air-conditioning. John Piña
Craven says we can have it all by tapping the icy waters of the deep.
Craven's system exploits the dramatic temperature difference between
ocean water below 3,000 feet - perpetually just above freezing - and the
much warmer water and air above it. That temperature gap can be
harnessed to create a nearly unlimited supply of energy. Although the
scientific concepts behind cold-water energy have been around for
decades, Craven made them real when he founded the state-funded Natural
Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in 1974 on Keahole Point, near Kona. Under
Craven, the lab developed the process of using cold deep-ocean water and
hot surface water to produce electricity. By the 1980s the Natural
Energy Lab's demonstration plant was generating net power, the world's
first through so-called ocean thermal energy conversion.
"The potential of OTEC is great," says Joseph Huang, a senior scientist
for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and an expert on the
process. "The oceans are the biggest solar collector on Earth, and
there's enough energy in them to supply a thousand times the world's
needs. If you want to depend on nature, the oceans are the only energy
source big enough to tap."
Stephen Oney, vice president of Ocean Engineering and Energy Systems in
Honolulu, which will design CHC's Saipan pipes, agrees: "The technology
is there, and the science is there. It just needs to be improved." Oney,
who recently inked a deal with the Pentagon to build an OTEC power plant
for a US naval base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia,
envisions a day when floating OTEC platforms produce enough hydrogen to
meet all of the world's energy needs.
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