Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy

By Sidney Borowitz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
OCEAN THERMAL ENERGY CONVERSION (OTEC)

The flux of energy from the sun onto the oceans is so large that if one were to convert as little as 0.01 percent to useful purposes, it would be several times the daily amount of energy presently used by humankind. Converting any of it, however, poses substantial engineering problems. Such a project was not even considered until the early 1970s when OPEC tripled oil prices, forcing the United States to seek alternative energy sources. In recent years the idea of using the solar energy that warms the ocean as a replacement for fossil fuels has languished. William H. Avery and Chih Wu's book entitled, Renewable Energy From the Ocean ( Oxford University Press) could stimulate new interest in the subject. Much of the information that follows comes from this book.

What makes the recovery of the sun's energy possible is that water is a very efficient absorber of the light energy of the sun. Consequently, the top layer of the ocean, between 15 degrees north latitude and 15 degrees south latitude--i.e. from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn--is heated to about 28°C (82°F). The temperature is more or less constant, night and day, in all seasons, and reaches down about 300 feet. Below that level the temperature steadily decreases. At 3000 feet it measures a constant 5°C (41°F) and remains virtually at that temperature no matter how far down we go. This is water that has melted from the polar ice regions, and because cold water is heavier than warm water, it does not mix with the top

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Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Introduction 9
  • Chapter 1 the Earth Emerges 15
  • Chapter 2 Energy 27
  • Chapter 3 Fossil Fuels 41
  • Chapter 4 Oil 53
  • Chapter 5 Coal 63
  • Chapter 6 Natural Gas 73
  • Chapter 7 Nuclear Energy (fission) 79
  • Chapter 8 Nuclear Energy (fusion) 97
  • Chapter 9 Direct Utilization of Solar Energy 109
  • Chapter 10 Photovoltaics 121
  • Chapter 11 Biomass 135
  • Chapter 12 Energy from Wind and Water 145
  • Chapter 13 Nonsolar Energy Sources: Geothermal and Tides 159
  • Chapter 14 Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (otec) 173
  • Chapter 15 Batteries, Fuel Cells, and Flywheels 183
  • Chapter 16 Conservation 197
  • Chapter 17 a Hydrogen Economy 207
  • Chapter 18 Envoi 211
  • Index 215
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