Hawaii, Lockheed, Dillingham Announce They Will Build, Operate Ocean-Fueled Energy Pilot Plant

An e l e c t r i c - p o w e r generator floating on the Pacific Ocean and using warm surface water heated by solar radiation for fuel will begin test operations next spring.

It will be the first at-sea closedcycle Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant that will generate usable amounts of power.

The project, which involves the State of Hawaii, Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Dillingham Corporation of Honolulu, will begin assembling the generating plant immediately, according to Hawaii Gov. George R. Ariyoshi, who announced the project.

The demonstration plant, referred to as a mini-OTEC, will be a scaled-down version of proposed huge sea-based generating plants. Governor Ariyoshi said the 50-kilowatt plant will demonstrate that OTEC technology is feasible. When scaled up, a 100- megawatt plant could provide for the electrical needs of a city of 100,000 persons.

Hawaii and the other participants announced in April that tentative a g r e e m e n t had been reached to begin preliminary engineering design of such a plant.

Lockheed's program manager for mini-OTEC, Delbert N. Burwell, said the plant would prove the feasibility of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion as a non-polluting electrical power source. It could be an important milestone in Hawaii's search for energy independence and a key step in the national program to reduce dependence on foreign petroleum suppliers.

Mr. Burwell said the bargemounted mini-OTEC plant will provide about 10 kilowatts of electric power above that needed for pumps and other operating equipment aboard. This net surplus power will be used to power test equipment on the barge. No electricity will be piped ashore.

OTEC makes use of a very large heat engine which uses the warm surface waters of the ocean as a heat source, and the cold water from the depths as a heat sink.

The warm surface water vaporizes a liquid, such as ammonia.

Like steam, this gaseous, pressurized ammonia drives turbinegenerators.

The ammonia then is condensed to its liquid form by the cold ocean water pumped up from the depths, and this closed cycle continues.

The State of Hawaii will fund the half-mile-long pipe which will carry cold water from the depths to the surface OTEC plant, and will fund modification of a barge which will be used as the OTEC plant machinery platform.

Lockheed will design and build the OTEC powerplant which will operate with a closed-loop ammonia cycle.

Dillingham will modify and outfit the barge, assemble the system, and deploy the cold-water pipe and barge to the operating site, about one mile off of Ke- ahole Point, adjacent to the island of Hawaii.

A major contributor to the project is Alfa-Laval of Sweden, acting through Energy Systems Division, A l f a - L a v a l Thermal, Inc., South Deerfield, Mass., one of its U.S.-based operations. Alfa- Laval is furnishing two titanium heat exchangers, major components of the mini-OTEC powerplant.

The principal component subcontractor to Lockheed is Rotoflow Corp., Los Angeles, Calif., which is supplying the turbinegenerator.

Dillingham, headquartered in Honolulu, is a diversified company, active in m a r i t i m e , resources, construction and property.

The company has been studying OTEC since 1975, concentrating on the construction and deployment aspects of OTEC plants. Lloyd Jones is manager of Energy Projects.

Lockheed Missiles & Space Company, a subsidiary of Lockheed Corporation, has been involved in ocean systems activities for more than two decades, beginning with development of the Navy's submarine-launched Fleet Ballistic Missiles (the Polaris, Poseidon, and now, still in development, the Trident). Lockheed recently announced another project involving three other companies, two Dutch and one American, to develop technology to mine mineral-bearing manganese nodules, found in abundance on the deep ocean floor.

Lockheed Petroleum Services, a Canadian subsidiary of Lockheed Corporation, has also developed and is now marketing an oil-well completion and production system for emplacement on the ocean floor. The system has been installed on wells in 350 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, and is also being installed in another oil field off the coast of Brazil.

Major components of the mini- OTEC system have been selected and are as follows: HEAT EXCHANGERS — Designed and built by Energy Systems Division, Alfa-Laval Thermal, Inc., South Deerfield, Mass., both evaporator and condensor are titanium, plate-type heat exchangers.

The capacities of the heat exchangers are capable of being easily increased simply by adding more titanium plates.

TURBINE-GENERATOR—Designed and built by Rotoflow Corporation, Los Angeles, the turbine- generator will be rated at 65 kw input with an ammonia flow rate of five pounds/second. Electrical output is 50 kw (e), threephase 115-208V.

SEAWATER PUMPS —Axialflow pumps of 20 horsepower each will deliver 3,300 gpm of both warm and cold seawater. The pumps will be mounted amid ships of the support platform. The coldwater pump will be connected to the cold-water pipe with a 100- foot 18-inch-diameter transfer hose.

SEAWATER PIPING — The cold-water pipe will be 28-inchdiameter, 2 , 7 0 0 - f o o t - l o n g polyethylene.

The warm water and seawater r e t u r n pipes will be made of the same material but of smaller diameter and shorter length. The buoyant cold-water pipe will be anchored approximately 300 feet above the ocean floor. The top of the pipe will be connected to a spar buoy which in turn will be connected to the support platform with hawsers.

Lloyd Jones, Energy Projects manager for Dillingham, reported that preliminary engineering studies conducted by Makai Ocean Engineering Company, Kailua, Hawaii, had resolved all the questions regarding deployment and mooring of the cold-water pipe, one of the most difficult operations.

Makai Engineering also conducted engineering studies and prepared designs of the barge modifications and outfitting.

Operations will be under the direction of Hank White, operations manager of Hawaii Natural Energy Laboratory. "The importance of this project for providing a non-polluting, alternate electrical- power source using a renewable fuel source cannot be overemphasized," Mr. White said.

"Mini-OTEC will confirm the technical feasibility of exploiting the ocean thermal gradient and may play an important role in the energy economy of tropical islands in the foreseeable future."

Other stories from November 1978 issue


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