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On The Ideal City in 2030: How Carbon 'Negative' Cities can Generate the Greatest Positive Impacts

"Dumping heat in the oceans", it is already there, 93 percent of the heat attributed to global warming. Most of it accumulates near the equator and the mass-flow from there is towards the poles, often in the form of cyclones or smaller storms. It is this heat that causes icecap melting that will be the driver of truly massive sea level rise. The coefficient of thermal expansion at 1000 meters is half that of 28-30C in the tropics. Drop that temperature below 27C and cyclones cannot form. A drop of 3C of the upper 50 meters would equate to less of a raise in the deep due the much greater volume but even if it did rise by 3C the thermal expansion would be less. Some claim thermal expansion would increase because the surface would just absorb additional heat. NOAA estimates the cooling of the ocean surface due the conversion of heat to mechanical energy in a hurricane is between  0.2 and 1.2°C. That is not generally immediately replenished otherwise you would have serial storms in the same locations. Even if thermal expansion would increase though because surface heat was replenished this would be much less of a sea level threat than icecap melting that would be short-circuited by the movement of heat to the deep.

I have seen the convection-tower models as well. The first thing that strikes me is those who complain about windmills certainly wouldn't want one of those things in their backyard. That is one of the beauties of OTEC is that it is no ones backyard and furthermore out of sight and out of mind in most instances.

Happy New Year.


December 30, 2014    View Comment    

On The Ideal City in 2030: How Carbon 'Negative' Cities can Generate the Greatest Positive Impacts

EP the heat engine produces work by bringing a working fluid from a higher temperature to a lower temperature. The ocean's surface has an excess of heat due to climate change, Its depths are virtually untouched as a heat sink. With the carbone-free energy you can produce from these resources you can sequester carbon, desalineate water, produce fuels such as hydrogen or ammonia, all whie mitigating the greatest risks of climate change. The key is to making it cheap. A heat pipe reduces the cost by as much as 45 percent over conventional, cold water pipe, designs and mass production and further development would also help.

December 29, 2014    View Comment    

On Mining the Climate Data

Mark, I take your point about China and India and it is a good one. Global warming is the major topic of the article however and I stand by my belief that ALL nuclear or ALL some other renewable simply locks us into 1000 years of it whereas moving the trapped heat into into the abyss and continuely recycling it back there in the process of producing energy would mitigate the problem. It also addresses the two greatest risks of global warming, storm surge and sea level rise. It saps the power that produce the storms and shortcircuits the movement of tropical heat towards the poles where it is melting the icecaps. The thermal coefficient of expansion of sea water is also twice as great at the tropical surface as at 1000 meters. You do not get these benefits from nuclear, which instead contribute waste heat to the oceans. It is also likely that China and India can produce OTEC plants cheaper than we can but the need is sufficient that virtually every shipyard on the planet will have to brought into service and worked at full capacity if we are to roll back the effects of 400 ppm CO2.

Twenty five years ago I too believed nuclear was the answer. One of the major problems then as now was waste and proliferation. I patented the subductive waste disposal method and later applied for a patent for the nuclear assisted hydrocarbon production method to try to address these issues. My dealings with the industry left me far less sanguine about their committment to safety or public concerns than you and Robert appear to have but that has nothing to do with my belief that in terms of gobal warming mitigation OTEC is the better option.


December 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Mining the Climate Data

The World Nuclear Association says, "China has stated that it expects its costs for plants under construction to come in at less than $2000/kW and that subsequent units should be in the range of $1600/kW. This estimate is for the AP1000 design, the same as used by EIA for the USA. This would mean that an AP1000 in the USA would cost about three times as much as the same plant built in China. Different labour rates in the two countries are only part of the explanation. Standardised design, numerous units being built, and increased localisation are all significant factors in China."

A lot of things are made in China because it is cheaper to do so. Even Lockheed Martin's OTEC effort is being implemented there but I am not sure how this is relevant unless you want to import Chinesse labor to build nuclear plants or cars or whatever in North America.

Then again this is exactly what some are considering for Alberta's oilsands and some of British Columbia's mega projects but I don't think in the long run the public are goint to stand for it.


December 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Mining the Climate Data

Robert this was my initial interest too. See I thought to use OTEC as the source for desalination and pumping into the desert. My thinking has evolved though to consider sea level rise as the ultimate problem and have attempted to develop strategies that in the main will address that issue as their primary goal. In this regard I think OTEC - of the heat pipe design - is unsurpassed.

Warmest regards and best wishes.

December 25, 2014    View Comment    

On Mining the Climate Data

The benchmark capital cost sanctioned by DAE for imported units was quoted at $1600 per kilowatt.

"The first generation of nuclear power plants proved so costly to build that half of them were abandoned during construction. Those that were completed saw huge cost overruns, which were passed on to utility customers in the form of rate increases. By 1985, Forbes had labeled U.S. nuclear power "the largest managerial disaster in business history.”

The industry has failed to prove that things will be different this time around: soaring, uncertain costs continue to plague nuclear power in the 21st century. Between 2002 and 2008, for example, cost estimates for new nuclear plant construction rose from between $2 billion and $4 billion per unit to $9 billion per unit, according to a 2009 UCS report, while experience with new construction in Europe has seen costs continue to soar." Union of Concerned Scientists

As a matter of interest my brother-in-law was the project engineer on Rajasthan 1.

December 25, 2014    View Comment    

On Mining the Climate Data

Thanks Bob. Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year. Hopefully it will be one in which we start to make progress on this front.

December 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Mining the Climate Data

Bob, Muralidharan cites as his source the U.E.I Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2009, with Projections to 2030, vol 383 no. April. Energy Information Administration, 2009. This data must be however based on projections since as you point out no OTEC plant of commercial size has ever been built although a Lockheed Martin effort and the DCNs plant Hops refered to below are works in progress. Much of the difference between today and Carter's time is experience gained from deep water drilling and the most productive regions you refer to are relative calm because cyclones do not form near the equator per the following.

As to my optimism it is based on the laws of physics. Trapped heat in tropical waters has to go somewhere. Currently it is going to the poles which will bring about the greatest problem associated with climate change; massive sea level rise. The deep ocean on the other hand is an even greater heat sink which has not been tapped. The same law of thermodynamics that says heat will move from hot to cold also says you can produce work through that movement. It is pretty hard to harness a cyclone as the heat moves to the poles but relatively easy to do this moving heat into the ocean abyss. Further this is an approach to OTEC that has never been tried even though it has the most environmental benefit. Cold water has always been brought to the surface and the amount of water entailed has been OTEC's greatest impediment and the main driver of cost. With the heat pipe you move the heat in about two orders of magnitude less fluid in an enclosed system about one order small than the cold water pipe and this systemt keeps dissolved CO2 in the depths and is not a threat to marine life.

Basicially I think the science is on my side and thus I have every reason to be optimistic because no other energy system will in effect cool the ocean (at least its surface) and this is what has to happen if we are to prevent runaway warming.

December 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Mining the Climate Data

Thanks Hops. With the relaxation of the embargo on Cuba, it too might be a good place to start building out this solution.

Thanks for your interest and Merry Christmas.

December 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Problems with $17 Trillion, Save-the-Planet Headlines

Roger, for $17 trillion I think you could effectivley neutralize the CO2 problem by moving the resultant surface ocean heat into the abyss with heat pipe OTEC. I hope to expand on this in the next few days.


December 19, 2014    View Comment    

On Are Negative Emissions a "Myth?"

"The only three options we would be left with"?

You ommitted one Noah, hopefully not by design? You can also move the surface ocean heat, which represents 93% of the impact of global warming, into the ocean abyss. In that process you can produce the equivalent amount of energy that is currently being derived from fossil fuels and address sea level rise and storm surge, which are the greatest risks of climate change. There are no land issues involved and these processes occur in no one's backyard.

As one colleague has suggested this is a lot of wins for one technology, which can also be mated with the production of "supergreen hydrogen", which is another CDR technique.

December 12, 2014    View Comment    

On Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Power Cycles Starting to Hit the Market

Thanks Bob this article speaks of rotational speeds of between 100,000 and 230,000 rpm which always seemed to me to render electricity production pretty problematic.

December 4, 2014    View Comment