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Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

Ocean Thermal Energy

Conversion produces
electricity from the natural
thermal gradient of the
ocean, using the heat
stored in warm surface
water to create steam to
drive a turbine, while
pumping cold, deep water
to the surface to
recondense the steam.

Global Ocean Thermal Gradient

Temperature difference between warm surface water and cold
deep water must be >20C (36F) for OTEC system to produce
significant power

75% of the Earth Covered by water
Ocean water stores much more heat than the

Thermo-haline circulation creates temperature
differences throughout Earths oceans

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First OTEC system

Idea thought of by Jacques DArsonval, in 1881.
French physician that contributed greatly to
His student, Georges Claude, created the first OTEC
system in Cuba in 1930.

OTEC System

Hot surface water, boils low boiling point liquid

Boiling liquid turns turbine which generates electricity
Electricity carried to land through underwater cable
Deep cold water used to cool and condense liquid

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

Generates power with temperature

differential between warm surface

water and cooler, deep water
Requires temp differential of 36 F
50 kW mini-OTEC plant in Hawaii
operated in the 80s
OTEC limited applications
Very costly
Limited suitable sites
cant justify for electricity must
also desalinize, sustain
aquaculture, etc

The Technologies:
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)

Oceans natural thermal gradient

(warm surface waters, cold deep
waters) drives power-producing
OTEC converts solar radiation to
electric power
Tropical seas cover 60
million km2 -- worlds largest
solar collector
Solar radiation absorbed on
average day equal in heat
content to ~250 billion
barrels of oil
Three types of OTEC systems:
open, closed, and hybrid

Ocean Thermal Energy


Closed System OTEC

-Use of low boiling
point fluid

2000. Snowden, Paul, Kazuhiro Kitazawa, Masayuki Mac Takahashi . Deep Ocean
Water as Our Next Natural Resource. Chapter 3: OTEC Is Not A Dream. Tokyo.

Closed Cycle OTEC

In closed-cycle OTEC, warm seawater heats

a working fluid, such as ammonia, with a

low boiling point, such as ammonia, which
flows through a heat exchanger
The ammonia vapor expands at moderate
pressures turning a turbine, which drives a
generator which produces energy.
The vapor is then condensed in another
heat exchanger (condenser) by the cold,
deep-ocean water running through a cold
water pipe.
The working fluid (ammonia) is then cycled
back through the system, being
continuously recycled.

In an open-cycle plant, the warm water, after being
vaporized, can be recondensed and separated from

the cold seawater, leaving behind the salt and

providing a source of desalinated water fresh enough
for municipal or agricultural use.

Open Cycle OTEC

In an open-cycle OTEC plant, warm seawater from the

surface is the working fluid that is pumped into a vacuum

chamber where it is flash- evaporated to produce steam
at an absolute pressure of about 2.4 kilopascals (kPa).
The resulting steam expands through a low-pressure
turbine that is hooked up to a generator to produce
The steam that exits the turbine is condensed by cold,
deep-ocean water, which is returned to the environment.
If a surface condenser is used, the condensed steam
remains separated from the cold ocean water and can be
collected as a ready source of desalinated water for
commercial, domestic or agricultural use.

OTEC Hybrid Cycle System

Hybrid plants, combining benefits of the two systems, would use closedcycle generation combined with a second-stage flash evaporator to
desalinate water.

Open System OTEC

Use of Water as fluid

Benefits of Open System OTEC if

-Desalinated water
-Air conditioning
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OTEC Designs

Reduces Carbon
footprint by providing

clean cost effective

Produces desalinated
water for industrial,
agricultural and
residential uses

Promotes Global
competitiveness and
International Trade
Enhances energy

Has potential to
mitigate green house
gas emissions from
burning fossil fuels