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Ocean Thermal Energy Converter
Ocean Thermal Energy Converter

Perhaps the most ambitious and world changing undertaking of the Celestopea Project, is the creation of a grid of Ocean Thermal Energy Converters (OTEC's) to power the world into the 21st century and beyond. OTEC's take advantage of the perpetual difference between the temperature at the surface of the tropical oceans and the cooler temperature 3,000 to 4,000 feet below the surface.

This temperature variation is used to generate completely pollution free electricity from an inexhaustible renewable source. In fact, each day the 23 million square miles of tropical ocean absorb an amount of solar energy equal in heat content to 250 billion barrels of oil. By way of comparison, all the countries of the world together consume about 50 million barrels of oil each day. If our worldwide grid of OTEC's are only able to extract 1/10th of 1% of the daily solar radiation, they will produce 20 times the daily amount of electricity currently consumed by the United States.

Although it would seem that a vast amount of energy would be required to pump large volumes of water 4,000 vertical feet up from the ocean depths, surprisingly that is not the case. Water is basically neutral buoyant, so the OTEC pump merely needs to overcome the difference between the density of the cold deep ocean water and the warmer surface water, plus the friction of the pipe. Water pumped up from 4,000 feet below would only require the energy needed to pump the same volume of water up 24 feet on the surface. For all of its operational needs, a 100 megawatt OTEC will consume 41 megawatts, leaving 59 megawatts available for other uses.

Hydrogen and Oxygen are additional fuel byproducts of OTEC operation. As everyone knows, water is H2O or 2 parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. It's somewhat funny to think that water is used to put out fires, yet the two elements it is composed of - hydrogen and oxygen are both highly flammable. These two elements can be separated from the liquid water by a process know as electrolysis. Direct solar cell electricity can be used to accomplish this. The resulting oxygen can be released into the atmosphere to replenish the atmospheric oxygen content which has diminished over the millenniums. The hydrogen can be used directly as fuel for virtually everything gasoline or oil are currently used for. Hydrogen is such a pollution free fuel that the mayor of Chicago recently drank from the tailpipe of a hydrogen powered bus to demonstrate the purity of its emissions.

Inexhaustibly renewable, pollution free energy is merely the beginning of the benefits of Celestopean OTEC's. Tropical oceans are nearly devoid of life. Because growing conditions are so ideal, the algae's which are the base of the food chain, bloom in explosive growths that quickly consume all nutrients. They then die and fall to the ocean depths leaving the surface fairly empty of life. The cold, nitrogen and nutrient-rich water pulled up from the ocean depths will seed a bloom of new life in the tropical ocean deserts. The resulting micro algae and phytoplankton growth will nourish a tremendous increase in many types of fish and higher forms of marine life. The algae will also be farmed both on the open sea and in large shallow containment ponds. The combination of tropical sun, perfect water temperature and nitrogen, nutrient laden water, will produce millions of tons of high quality protein each year. As additional Celestopean cities and OTEC's begin to be created in the worlds oceans, the protein produced from our sea farms will make a significant dent in the worldwide problem of hunger and malnutrition.
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, an adult person should receive a minimum of 35 grams of protein every day. Each day, each 100 megawatt OTEC will pump up 6 billion gallons of deep ocean water rich in nitrogen, the food of phytoplankton. A gallon of seawater contains 1.7 to 1.8 milligrams of nitrogen. Phytoplankton, one of the most highly efficient organisms, will convert 78-80% of the nitrogen into protein. The nitrogen in the daily pumped water of a single OTEC, will be converted by the phytoplankton into over 8 tons of protein each day, of which 65% will be high quality protein. If this high quality protein were harvested and manufactured into a pleasant consumable form, it would be enough to feed almost 150,000 people each day.

The 40 degree deep ocean water can be mixed with warm surface water in any proportion to produce greenhouse and sea farm environments in temperature ranges between 45 - 90 degrees. This allows mini ecosystems to be created that can grow virtually all fruits and vegetables from any continental climate. In addition to tropical fish, the sea farms will also raise many types of cold water fish and shellfish such as salmon, lobster, abalone, trout, oysters and clams, that would normally not survive in warm tropical waters.

OTEC's will also be used to desalinate sea water, to produce completely pure drinking water. OTEC's set up off the coast of Africa, Australia and the Middle East can provide copious amounts of fresh water. Not only will this allow deserts to blossom as roses, but it will also remove scarce water supplies as a thorn of contention among nations. A 2 megawatt (net) OTEC will produce 4300 cubic meters of desalinated water each day by condensing the spent steam created in the electrical generation process on the cold sea water intake pipes.

Many minerals and chemicals can also be derived as byproducts of OTEC operation from the 57 elements dissolved in solution in seawater. Besides the fuels hydrogen, oxygen and methanol, other byproducts include ammonia, salt, chlorine and eventually gold, platinum and other rare and precious elements. Past corporate analysis has always shown such ventures to be unprofitable because of the cost of pumping the large volume of water necessary to extract significant amounts of minerals. This main stumbling block is overcome as the OTEC's will already be pumping vast quantities of water for other purposes. The necessary mining technology is leaping forward as well. The Japanese have recently been experimenting with extraction of uranium from seawater and found pending technology in material sciences is making mining minerals from seawater feasible.

Based upon the current cost of component parts and the operations of existing OTEC's at the University of Hawaii, the cost of building a 100 megawatt OTEC in 1999 US dollars with existing technology, including apparatus for hydrogen extraction, will range from $157 to $175 million dollars. The costs should rapidly begin to fall as OTEC's begin to proliferate around the world. It is such a viable and environmentally friendly technology that we would expect many other countries and companies to soon be employing and duplicating it.

The oceans are such a vast storehouse of energy, food and minerals, they are inexhaustible when utilized through OTEC technology. Nor will our small pumping efforts, as enormous as they may seem to us, effect the current ocean equilibrium. As long as the sun rises and sets each day , the oceans are an eternally renewable resource when tapped through OTEC's. The oceans contain about 300 million cubic miles of sea water, of which 3/4's is nutrient rich at depths greater than 3000 feet. That's equal to 225,000 million cubic miles of water. About 1/10th of 1%, or 225,000 cubic miles of water is replaced each year by new water down-welling from the ocean surfaces, particularly the cold oceans near the poles.

Each 100 megawatt OTEC will pull up 1.9 cubic miles of deep ocean water annually. 10,000 such OTEC's would only consume 19,000 cubic miles of the energy and nutrient potential of deep ocean water. That is still less than 10% of the annual replacement supply, yet, it would be enough to produce 1,000,000 megawatts of electricity and meet the annual protein requirements of 2 billion people!

For a more thorough explanation of the history, operation and possibilities of OTEC's please follow the link to

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