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On Energy With Benefits

Max lack of funding has insured the modelling we all seek is non existant. I am collaborating with a group that includes a former Chief Technologist with NASA and the Director Emeritus with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute of the University of Hawaii. Both of these gentlemen have been associated with OTEC from the outset. We also have two engineers, one of whom who has long experience with OTEC, a PhD in Physics with over 20 patents and Dr. Greg Rau of the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a collaborator in the University of Victoria Water and Aquatic Sciences Research Program as well as our conscious and advisor on the issues that concern you. It is his assessment that there are a lot of environmental winners associated with the deep water condenser OTEC design. He also has developed a hydrogen production technique that removes and stores atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and produces alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean acidification. It is a natural adjunct to our OTEC technology because an energy carrier is required to bring the ocean generated energy to shore. Believe me we have debated these issues extensively and are actively seeking the funding necessary to first properly engineer the system, then build a small ocean going prototype to test it  and then slowly begin the build out of the systems that Paul Curto, formerly with NASA, has remarked is by far the most balanced means to face the challenge of global warming

October 14, 2014    View Comment    

On Should the Climate Movement Turn Down the Radicalism?

Neil, the Harper Government in Canada represents the flip side of this argument.

As Andrew Leach, the Enbridge Professor of Energy at the University of Alberta points out in an article today, "They chose to kick sand in the face of the environmental movement in Canada. They chose to talk down to American objections. They chose to take a very heavy-handed approach in terms of talking up the possibility of not needing the U.S. market."

Michael Cleland, the Nexen executive-in-residence at the Canada West Foundation says in the same article, concerning the impact of the government's actions on the oil and gas industry, "The loss of public support, I think it borders on being crippling."


October 13, 2014    View Comment    

On George Shultz: "Climate is Changing," and We Need More Action

“One of the real breakthroughs is when someone figures out long-term storage capacity,”

Nature figured that out decades ago. She is storing heat that otherwise would be baking us in the ocean.

The breakthrough will occur when sufficient numbers of us understand that the conversion of this heat to usable power and the movement of 20 times more into the deep ocean remedies the problem.

James Hansen has advised, “The rate of ocean heat uptake determines the planetary energy imbalance, which is the most fundamental single measure of the state of the Earth’s climate."

In a Nature article, whe he was asked, "Is climate change going to be less extreme than you previously thought?" James Lovelock replied, "we were all so taken in by the perfect correlation between temperature and CO2 in the ice-core analyses [from the ice-sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, studied since the 1980s]. You could draw a straight line relating temperature and CO2, and it was such a temptation for everyone to say, “Well, with CO2 rising we can say in such and such a year it will be this hot.” It was a mistake we all made.

We shouldn’t have forgotten that the system has a lot of inertia and we’re not going to shift it very quickly. The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of the ocean — it’s a thousand times greater than the atmosphere and the surface. You can’t change that very rapidly."

It is time to stop being taken in by climate and energy solutions that have little to no real impact.

October 5, 2014    View Comment    

On Can CDR Give New Life to Comprehensive Carbon Pollution Legislation in the US?

James Hansen et al. point out in the paper Earth’s energy imbalance and implications that   "The rate at which Earth’s surface temperature approaches a new equilibrium in response to a climate forcing depends on  how efficiently heat perturbations are mixed into the deeper ocean."

Fossil fuel interest can offset the damage they are creating by forcibly mixing the accumulating warming heat - over 90 percent of which is in the upper 700 meters of the ocean - deeper.  A heat pipe is the most efficient mechanism for moving heat from a location where it can do damage to a benign heat sink like the deep ocean. Absent moving parts it moves heat through the phase changes of the working fluid. Passing a vaporized working fluid which extracts surface and atmospheric heat in the form of latent heat of evaporation through a heat engine it is estimated the oceans have the potential to produce at least as much energy as is currently derived from fossil fuels.  The surface heat is then deposited at a depth of 1000 meters in the form of the latent heat of condensation at the condenser. At this depth the coefficient of expansion of ocean water is half that of the surface from which the heat has been removed thus one of the greatest risks of climate change, sea level rise, is diminished. As the rate of return of heat from the depths is estimated at 4 meters/year it would take 250 years for the relegated heat to migrate back to the surface, where it could again be forcibly return.

It will take probably a century or more to build out this zero emission energy system that can replace fossil fuels even as it remedies the damage the burning of the same  has and will cause.  In the remaining 150 years that it would take for the first relegated heat to start reemerging the atmophere will have begun recovery.

If the fossil fuel industry is to avoid the stranding of its assets and replace those it is depleting along the same time line, it will support the build out of ocean thermal energy conversion systems designed to foreceably move heat into the deep ocean. There are after all in the energy game and can remain so in the transition.

As is clear from the chart shown in this presentation, CDR is a fairly insignificant wedge and thus not much of a hedge against the stranding of their existing assets.


September 25, 2014    View Comment    

On Climate Change: Is Failure Now Inevitable?

James Hansen et al. point out in the paper Earth’s energy imbalance and implications that   "The rate at which Earth’s surface temperature approaches a new equilibrium in response to a climate forcing depends on  how efficiently heat perturbations are mixed into the deeper ocean."

You are undoubtedly right Robert, that we will not keep atmospheric CO2 levels below 450 ppm. That does not preclude us however from avoiding the predicted consequences of this much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. We can forcibly mix the accumulating ocean heat -over 90 percent of global warming heat - into the deeper ocean and produce at least as much energy as we currently derive from fossil fuels. From a depth of 1000 meters Norm Rogers predicts it would take 250 years for this sequestered heat to migrate back to the surface. One hundred years or so of carbon free energy in the mean time would drop CO2 levels so that the reemergence of this heat or its forcible return again to the depths would be uneventful.

A colleague suggests it would take every shipyard and every mine on the planet working at full tilt to produce the infrastructure for 2.5 terawatts of OTEC derived power. I would think this would be well received in Glasgow?

By the way you can also fly planes on hydrogen or ammonia just as you can operate cars on these fuels. Airbus and Boeing have or are researching fuel cells and hydrogen works in a turbine as well.


September 22, 2014    View Comment    

On Hope For an Energy Rich, Sustainable Future

Max, Naomi Klein's latest book castigates capitalism for its impact on climate change. Overly cautious environmentalism and environmentalism with an agenda beyond resolving the problem are no less problematic in my view.

September 18, 2014    View Comment    

On Hope For an Energy Rich, Sustainable Future

Max, I am working on these issues with some pretty bright people. Dr. James Lau, Phd Physics, has a design that requires no water movement because of the wide distribution of the evaporator and condenser components. I have a design that uses the discharge water from these units to move the system and allow it to graze fresh waters. OTEC requires a temperature difference of at least 20C between the hot and cold reservoirs to work. If you operate over a small area you readily degrade this resource and it is likely it would shut down before you could produce the kind of effect you are looking at. It is in the operators economic interests to insure such a thing does not happen thus it is highly unlikely that it would.  

September 18, 2014    View Comment    

On Hope For an Energy Rich, Sustainable Future

Max I think it is far more likely we will not implement this solution fast enough to prevent the crossing of any number of climate tipping points rather than your alternative. But have a look at the Levitus paper. The ocean to a depth of 2000 meter only warmed on average 0.09C over the period 1955–2010. If this heat however was instantaneously return to the atmosphere in one chunk the lower 10 kilometers would heat up 36C. These are the kind of numbers you would be looking at if you were pumping a further potential 36c increase into the deep instead. But say you warmed the water now at 1000 meters, which is about 4C, a couple of degrees. This 6C water would rise through convection but only until it reached water at the same temperature, which is still around 900 meters deep. I think you are taking the precautionary principle to dangerously exagerated extremes and as a Canadian would hope you would rather be part of the solution rather than the problem. Further in the time it will take to build out anything like the kind of infrastructure that is required there will be plenty of time to gain real time experience into what the ramifications are and bring the build out to an end if in the unlikely event that proved necessary.  

September 18, 2014    View Comment    

On Are Carbon Capture and Storage and Biomass Indispensable in the Fight Against Climate Change?

The global warming mitigation method proposes that both water and CO2 can be sequestered in the hot desert of the planet using energy produced from the accumulating heat in the oceans.

September 12, 2014    View Comment    

On Is it Really Necessary to Have a Deep Geologic Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel?

And the industry wonders why the public has no faith in its pronouncements?

September 11, 2014    View Comment    

On The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

To a depth of 2000 meters the ocean has only warmed .09C from 1955 to 2010 according to Levitus, et al., 2012. As long as you use a heat pipe to move surface heat below the thermocline instead of upwelling cold water near the surface you will not release CO2 into the atmosphere. Greg Rau's C negative hydrogen production mated with OTEC would sequester your CO2 at the same time as it produces the energy carrier necessary to bring offshore power to market.

We are working with other partners to try and bring this REAL climate solution to fruition.

August 28, 2014    View Comment    

On The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

Climate change is energy storage - heat in the ocean. The solution is to find the best way to convert that heat back to energy and move significantly more away from the surface.


August 25, 2014    View Comment