Copyright 2012, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP
This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Oi & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, held between September, 1720, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the Technical Committee of the event according to the information contained in the final paper submitted by the author(s). The organizers are not supposed to translate or correct the submitted papers. The material as it is presented, does not necessarily represent Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute’ opinion, or that of its Members or Representatives. Authors consent to the publication of this Technical Paper in the Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Proceedings.

This paper describes a technology for harnessing the huge thermal energy availability in the oceans by an old heat engine approach. The main concept designs are explained and illustrated. An advanced power cycle is modeled and simulated, showing greater energy performance than a Rankine cycle. Preliminary economic analyses are discussed, showing feasible attractiveness in times of both energy and environmental insecurities.

1. Introduction
PCHM is the author´s Portuguese acronym for “Small Offshore Hydroelectric Utility”, after the English acronym OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion). The word “small” is intended to denote its much smaller size as compared to a typical hydroelectric onshore power plant. The PCHM route taps into the stored solar energy in the oceans, the difference between the sea surface temperatures and those ones at deep below, by harnessing it for extracting work through thermodynamic power cycles. The oceans are huge solar thermal energy reservoirs, their temperatures at about 1,000 m depth range from 4ºC to 6ºC, and in the tropics their surface temperatures range from 18ºC to 28ºC on a 24/7 yearly basis. Research and development for harnessing the ocean thermal energy date back to 1880´s. In 1881, Jacques Arsene d'Arsonval, a French physicist, proposed harnessing the ocean thermal energy. A d'Arsonval´s student, Georges Claude, managed to build the first PCHM plant in 1930 in Cuba, which yielded 22 kWe. Other efforts followed on with little or no success for either lack of robust construction technology or economic issues. In 1962, J. Hilbert Anderson and his son, James H. Anderson Jr., focused on maximizing energy performance of the key-components of a PCHM plant. They patented a closed-cycle design in 1967. Japan is a great contributor for the PCHM R&D. In 1970, the Tokyo energy company built and deployed a 100 kWe closed-cycle plant in the Nauru Island. That plant was commissioned in 1981, having yielded 120 kWe, out of which 30 kWe for a school and neighborhood. This fact set a world record for energy supply by a PCHM with connection to an onshore electric grid. Currently, the Ocean Energy Institute of the Saga University is a world leader to focus on more efficient power cycles, as well as other benefits besides electricity yield. The USA got involved in the PCHM R&D in 1974 with the establishment of the NELHA - Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Keahole Point. Hawaii lies where there are optimal conditions for a PCHM route, with access to both cold and warm water, and high energy costs provided by fossil fuels. Figure 1 shows sea surface temperatures, for which a PCHM route can be a viable solution in the tropics, where 0.6 EJ/yr energy capacity is available and renewable daily, according to WEC (1994). Besides electricity, other energy carriers are possible such as hydrogen and ammonia, for instance. This paper covers some concept designs and respective modeling, results and discussions. Also, a preliminary economic analysis is carried out, and a possible product portfolio is illustrated. The purpose is to highlight the potential of such a technological route as a renewable baseload energy and water supply, and other services as well.

______________________________ 1 Master, Energy Engineer, PETROBRAS, vicentefachina@gmail.com

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Figure 1. Average sea surface temperatures. Source: NOAA (2012).

2. Concept Designs
A PCHM can be either offshore, Figure 2, or onshore, Figure 3. Onshore plants should be easier to deploy but they ought to have longer water pipes. As to offshore plants, their deployments are akin to the offshore oil and gas business, the biggest challenge being the cold water pipes due to their very large diameters. According to Avery and Wu (1994), “plastic structures reinforced with fiberglass are widely used in industry and marine construction, and offer an attractive option for the construction of cold water pipes.” Also on the cold water pipes, an optimized construction and offshore deployment technology was released by Miller and Ascari (2011). All technical hurdles have been overcome for commercial operation as to fabrication and deployment of large cold water pipes, heat exchanger materials and fouling, and environmental impacts, according to Avery and Wu (1994). Figure 4 by the author shows two design concepts for offshore plants, the one using cold water pipes, and the other with a subsea condenser. On the subsea condenser approach, a working fluid moves up and down along the sea depth instead of cold water, thus avoiding the cold water pipes. Nevertheless, higher pumping power is needed for moving liquid working fluid all along about 1,100 m upwards a platform topside. The subsea condenser approach was first mentioned by Karig (1972) and Cohen (1982), and revisited by Srinivasan (2009). Figure 5 shows a design concept by Anderson (1982) for minimizing pumping power by placing all the key pieces of equipment in the subsea: evaporator, turbogenerator, and condenser. On topside, there should stay the control room, living quarters, and other systems common to offshore operations. All the above concepts utilize a closed-power cycle, in which a working fluid flows in a closed circuit. For the purpose of yielding potable water only, there is an open cycle setup: warm seawater is evaporated in a flash tank, moves a turbogenerator, and then is collected as potable water in a condenser. The turbogenerator provides the pumping power for the water flows. Also, there are the hybrid systems, which combine the closed cycle and the open cycles to dispatch both electricity and potable water.

Figure 2. An offshore plant, conceptual illustration. Source: Ferris (2012). 2

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Figure 3. An onshore plant, conceptual illustration Source: Ferris (2012).

Figure 4. The CWP-Cold Water Pipe, and the SSC-SubSea Condenser concepts.

Figure 5. The Anderson concept. Source: Anderson (1982). 3

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3. Modeling
A Rankine power cycle is a basic one for using with a phase-changing working fluid. For a PCHM, the energy performance range is 2.5% to 3.0%, which is about half of the Carnot efficiency for a 6ºC to 24ºC temperature range. According to Uehara et al. (2002), the Uehara® Cycle is based on Kalina (1982) by adding a low pressure turbine as shown in Figure 6, between points 10 and 11. Also, adding a hydro turbine can regenerate nearly 100% of the seawater pumping power, thus achieving energy performances close to the Carnot threshold for a given temperature range. The strategy behind the Uehara® power cycle is to minimize the heat rejections in the condenser by utilizing heat regenerating cycles, thus achieving energy performances larger than the ones with a Rankine power cycle for the same temperature range. After going through the evaporator, an ammonia vapor-water mixture gets split into water and saturated ammonia vapor in the separator, and then the saturated ammonia vapor goes through a high pressure turbine, which moves an electric generator. After the high pressure turbine, part of the ammonia vapor is extracted and goes towards a pre-heater, and the other part goes through a low pressure turbine, which moves another electric generator. After the low pressure turbine, the ammonia vapor gets mixed with the water from the separator in the absorber, and then it goes towards a condenser. After the condenser, the liquid ammonia-water mixture is pumped towards the pre-heater, where heat is exchanged with that part of the ammonia vapor extracted after the high pressure turbine. After the pre-heater, the extracted ammonia vapor gets mixed with the pre-heated liquid ammonia-water mixture, thus making up the full ammonia-water mixture. The full liquid ammonia-water mixture is then pumped towards a heat regenerator, where heat is exchanged with the water coming from the separator. After being pre-heated in the heat regenerator, the liquid ammonia-water mixture follows through the evaporator and the cycle repeats itself. In case of the pieces of equipment are on the topside of a platform, the author proposes the discharged seawater to run a hydro turbine to move another electric generator, thus regenerating nearly 100% of the seawater pumping power. The hydro turbine does not belong to the Uehara® power cycle. As to the model equations, they all stem from energy balances in the pieces of equipment, with care to consider their irreversibility as well (energy efficiencies), and the thermodynamic lines (enthalpy, entropy etc) as functions of temperatures and pressures. By doing so one gets an algebraic equation set to be solved. In the Appendix, a conceptual modeling of an optimum heat exchanger design is considered by the author.

Heat off

1-yH2O x=1

WThp x=0.95

1-yw f

mhw + mcw

yH2O m hw


yw f

x=0.90 Heat off

Turbine 3



14 x=0.50



mw f mcw


x=0 x=0

Figure 6. The Uehara® cycle for a PCHM. Source: adapted from Uehara et al. (2002).


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4. Results and Discussion
Numerical simulations by the author have been carried out for the Uehara® power cycle. As a simulation input, a 100 MW total shaft power has been considered for both the high and low pressure turbines. For temperatures of 24ºC at sea level and 6ºC from 1,100 m depth, the overall energy cycle performance is found to be 5.1%, without seawater pumping regeneration. In order to yield a 100 MW total shaft power, the working fluid flow has to be 1,114 kg/s for a 91% ammonia weight in an ammonia-water mixture. The warm seawater flow has to be 53.6 m3/s, which represent 1.5 GW energy consumption, which stems from a 24ºC sea surface temperature and from a 7ºC temperature drop in the evaporator. The cold seawater flow has to be 27.7 m3/s. A net power is found to be 77.1 MW, after discounting the pumping powers for the seawater and the working fluid flows only. In case of the pieces of equipment are located on a platform topside, adding an 85%-efficient hydro turbine, with a 10 m head for the total discharged water, can regenerate 6.8 MW more. Therefore, the net power can increase up to 83.9 MW, and the new overall energy performance can reach at 5.6%, which is close to the 6.1% Carnot efficiency threshold for the same temperature range. The cold water pipe is a critical design issue. For the above design conditions, its nominal inside diameter has to be 4.1 m, by assuming a 2.0 m/s water flow velocity and a 2.5 µm material roughness. The friction pressure drop for a 1,100 m long cold water pipe is about 17 kPa. On the other hand, by using a Rankine power cycle to yield a 100 MW total shaft power, the total water flow has to be 159 m3/s, well above 81 m3/s by the Uehara® power cycle. As to the cold water pipe, a 6.9 m inside diameter is needed, by assuming a 2.0 m/s water flow velocity and a 2.5 µm material roughness.

5. Preliminary Economic Analysis
The PCHM route converts the stored ocean solar thermal energy into electricity. Nevertheless, should not there be enough electricity demand, the energy can otherwise be stored in other energy carriers, thus bringing about several plantship configurations, as well as offshore production complexes to integrate several energy carriers. Besides energy carriers, the PCHM route can offer other services usually called Deep Ocean Water Applications (DOWA), which are described among the following subtitles. According to Vega (1994), in order to make a complete economic analysis, it is crucial to access the following pieces of information: • • • • The objectives of each application; The state of the art; Other fields of application for the technology; Opportunities for further development.

According to the EIA (2011), the world energy outlook consumption for 2015 is 604 EJ/yr. Adapted from the CIA (2012), 11,700 EJ are the actually proven natural gas world reserves. So, if natural gas only were to be burned, which is the cleanest fossil fuel, the world energy security would last less than two decades as of 2015 onwards. In order to put the PCHM energy route into a worldly perspective, the already cited 0.6 EJ/yr clean ocean thermal energy only is about 0.1% of the world energy outlook consumption as of 2015, and to last as long as the sun shines. Figure 7 illustrates a product portfolio of a PCHM. Electricity and desalinated water The economical transfer of either electricity or desalinated water depends on two major conditions, the distance between the supply and the demand spots, and the installation depth of electrical cables or water piping. Both yields can be either integrated to onshore grids or supplied to other offshore assets. Seawater desalination can be produced in open-or hybrid-cycle plants using surface condensers to turn evaporated seawater into potable water. This condensation system uses no incremental energy and has no moving parts. Also, it can be produced by reverse osmosis. In order to access a preliminary economic analysis, the author considered a 100 MW PCHM module to dispatch both electricity and desalinated water to land. The simulation conditions are: • • Investment range: USD 4.2/W to USD 9/W, adapted from Vega (1994); Electricity demand: 50 MWe; 5

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 • • • • • • • Desalinated water demand: 10 m3/s; Energy cost: assuming natural gas to be substituted for, USD 3/GJ, according to EIA (2011); Desalinated water cost: USD 0.7/m3, according to Henthorne (2009); Interest rate: 10%/yr, assuming a 50/50 risk sharing between public and private sectors; Operational costs: USD 10 million/yr, adapted from EIA (2011); Operational uptime: 90%; Operational life: 30 years.

The investment range is assumed to be distributed over 48 months for engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning, as 5%, 22%, 48%, and 25%. The net present value range at 20 years is USD 621 million to USD 872 million, and the payback time is between 6 and 8 years from the down payment. The natural gas prices may rise up to USD 7/GJ until 2025, according to EIA (2011), besides more stringent environmental constraints, which favor a PCHM route even more. Air Conditioning Cold water between 5°C and 10°C from a PCHM can be used in air conditioning systems of buildings. A 100 MW PCHM can supply between 100 m3/s and 200 m3/s cold water, capable of supporting air conditioning systems of many buildings, thus achieving relevant grid electricity savings. Cold Water Agriculture When cold water flows through buried pipes, the nearby soil gets cold. The temperature gradient between the plant roots and leaves allows them to thrive in the subtropics. Craven et. al (2006) patented and demonstrated such a process in the NELHA facilities (nelha.org) in Hawaii, showing that more than a hundred specimens can so be cultivated, of which many would not make it as usual in Hawaii. Mariculture Deep ocean water (DOW) contains high concentrations of essential nutrients which are consumed in shallow water. The cold water pumping resembles natural sea convective processes, thus enabling feeding the largest ecosystem of the planet. Cold-water delicacies, such as salmon and lobster, thrive in this nutrient-rich, deep, seawater. Microalgae such as spirulina, a health food supplement, also can be cultivated. Deep-ocean water can be combined with surface water to deliver water at an optimal temperature. Non-native species such as salmon, lobster, abalone, trout, oysters, and clams can be raised in pools supplied by pumped cold water. This extends the variety of fresh seafood products available for nearby markets. Such low-cost refrigeration can be used to maintain the quality of harvested fish, which deteriorate quickly in warm tropical regions. Hydrogen Production The electricity from a PCHM can be utilized for hydrogen production by water electrolysis. Nonetheless, due to its very low density, the compression, liquefaction, and transportation costs are higher than for other energy carriers, such as ammonia or methanol. According to Avery et al. (1985), the energy intensity of a hydrogen plantship is estimated to be 255 GJ/t, quite higher than for other energy carriers. Deuterium Production Deuterium is a fuel for nuclear fusion. Its concentration in the oceans is about 155 ppm, molar base, according to IAEA (2012), or about 17 g/m3. For the great amounts of seawater needed in a PCHM utility, a deuterium plantship may be a viable route for supplying fuel to future nuclear fusion power plants. Lithium Production Lithium is widely used in the ceramics, glass, grease, metallurgy, catalyst, and electrical battery industries. According to Schwochau (2005), its concentration in the oceans is about 173 g/m3. With 100 m3/s water flow, a lithium plantship would yield about 250,000 t/yr, assuming a 50% process efficiency, and 8,000 h/yr.


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Ammonia Production Ammonia can be produced with hydrogen from water electrolysis, and nitrogen from the atmosphere. Ammonia can substitute for hydrogen as a better energy carrier because it is easily handled and stored, besides inheriting all the body of knowledge from the refrigeration industry. According to Olson (2007), ammonia can be used in IC engines, gas turbines and burners, or in direct ammonia fuel cells. According to Avery et al. (1985), a 325 MWe ammonia plantship can yield 103 t/d at a USD 6/GJ cost, which is competitive with ammonia from natural gas. As to the energy intensity, 28 GJ/t is estimated, which is well lower than the one for hydrogen production. Methanol Production Methanol is a liquid fuel at ambient temperature, and burns cleanly. It can substitute for gasoline, with few changes needed in the IC engines, mainly for corrosion protection. Also, methanol is an important raw material for the plastic and the biodiesel industries. According to Avery et al. (1985), the energy intensity of a methanol plantship is estimated to be 9 GJ/t. Ethanol Production Likewise methanol, ethanol is a liquid fuel at ambient temperature, and burns cleanly. It can substitute for gasoline, with few changes needed in the IC engines, mainly for corrosion protection. Ethanol plantships are an alternative for the onshore ethanol production, mainly between harvests. Other advantages over the onshore production, besides no need for land, are the no need for fertilizers or pesticides or competition with food production.










Source: adapted from http://www.otec.ws/

Figure 7. Product portfolio of a PCHM. Source: adapted from GEC Co. Ltd. (2011).

6. Conclusions
A PCHM is a proven and timely energy route, with the following advantages: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Despite the inherently low energy performances for the low temperature differences, its 7/24 energy availability all over the year can make it a baseload power source, clean and renewable, powered by the sun; It does not have the intermittence problems of the direct solar or wind power; It does not have the seasonality downtime of the hydroelectricity; It has a high energy density in comparison with hydroelectricity, hydrokinetics, biomass, direct solar or wind; Its technology and deployment is akin to the oil and gas business; 7

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 6. Besides the energy conversions to electricity or to other energy carriers, it can as well offer potable water or other services based on the huge resources from the ocean and the atmosphere.

Particularly for the offshore oil and gas business, a PCHM can reduce or eventually eliminate the fuel consumption of offshore exploration or production rigs, depending on their locations. For instance, electricity from a PCHM can substitute for the fuel consumption in a LNG plantship. The bridge between conventional energy and something seems to be the non-conventional oil and gas reserves. The PCHM energy route can be at the other side of the bridge, cleanly and without serious environmental or health constraints. First commercial plants to be commissioned by 2014, according to Ferris (2012).

7. Acknowledgements
I thank James Lau (specialist in Ocean Thermal Energy) for having introduced me on the subsea condenser concept, an alternative to substitute for the CWP. I thank the fruitful networking with Peter O'Connell (GEC Co. Ltd.), Jim Baird (Global Warming Mitigation Method), Robert Cohen (specialist in Ocean Thermal Energy), Nagan Srinivasan (DSI Acquisitions), and Matthew Ascari (Lockheed Martin Corp.), for having helped me to stop embellishing the ocean thermal energy route, and thus having made me to study it hardly. I thank Aglairton Melo from Petrobras for his support.

8. References
ANDERSON, J.H., Ocean Thermal Power – The Coming Energy Revolution, 1982. AVERY, W.H., RICHARDS, D., DUGGER, G.L., Hydrogen Generation by OTEC Eletrolysis, and Economical Energy Transfer to World Markets via Ammonia and Methanol, Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, Vol.10, No.11, pp. 727-736, 1985. AVERY, W. H., WU, C., Renewable Energy from the Ocean – A Guide to OTEC, Oxford University Press, pp. 3, 1994. CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), The World Factbook, 2012. COHEN, R., Transactions, Royal Society, London A 307, 405-437, 1982. CRAVEN, J.P., DAVIDSON, J., BAILEY, R., Method and System for Regulating Plant Growth, US Patent# US 7,069,689 B2, 2006. EIA (Energy Information Administration), International Energy Outlook, Report DOE/EIA-0484, 2011. FERRIS, D., Market for Deep Ocean Energy Starts to Heat Up, Forbes magazine, Mar 31, 2012. GEC Co. Ltd., http://www.otec.ws, 2011. HENTHORNE, L., The Current State of Desalination, International Desalination Association, 2009. IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org, 2012. KALINA, A., Generation of Energy by Means of a Working Fluid, and Regeneration of a Working Fluid, US Patent # 4,346,561, 1982. KARIG, E., American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Paper no. 72-WA/OCT-12, 1972. MILLER, A.K., ASCARI, M., OTEC Advanced Composite Cold Water Pipe: Final Technical Report, Lockheed Martin Corporation under Cooperative Agreement # DE-FC36-08GO18172 with the US Department of Energy, 2011. NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/clim/sst.shtml, 2012. OLSON, N., Ammonia as a Transportation Fuel, Iowa Energy Center, 2007. SCHWOCHAU, K., Extraction of Metals from Sea Water, Institute of Chemistry, Nuclear Research Centre (KFA), 2005. SHAH, R. K., SEKULIC, D. P., Fundamentals of Heat Exchanger Design, Wiley, 2002. SRINIVASAN, N., “A New Improved Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion System with Suitable Floating Vessel Design”, Proceedings of the OMAE 2009 28th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, 2009. UEHARA et al, Extraction condition of OTEC using the Uehara cycle, Proceedings of The Twelfth International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference, Kitakyushu, Japan, May 26–31, 2002. VEGA, L., Economics of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, IOA Conference, Brighton, UK, 1994. WEC, World Energy Council, 1994.


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Appendix – An Optimum Heat Exchanger Design
Heat exchangers are the core engines for the energy conversions in a PCHM. The larger the heat exchanging between the seawater and the working fluid, the more energy can be converted to electricity by a turbogenerator for the same seawater flow. Nonetheless, the larger the global heat transfer coefficient, the larger the pressure drop through the heat exchanger. If a heat exchanger has such a high global heat transfer coefficient, its pressure drop can jeopardize the overall energy performance of a power cycle. Equation 1 aims at searching a balance between a global heat transfer coefficient and its associate pressure drop. The x subscript means the utility flow, and the y one means the working fluid flow. The expression for the optimum global heat transfer coefficient depends on the geometry and materials of a specific heat exchanger, its inlet pressure, and the utility properties.

η HX ≡

& m y ∆hy & mx ∆hx


∴ ∆h = ∆u +ν∆p + p∆ν ∴ ∆p = KU 2 & ∴ m y ∆hy = UA∆T

η HX =

UA∆T & mx ∆u +νKU 2 + p∆ν




∆u + p∆ν x ∂η HX = 0 → KU *2 − x =0 ∂U νx

Where ηHX: m: & An energy performance indicator for a heat exchanger; Mass flow;

h : Specific enthalpy; u : Specific internal energy; p : Pressure;
ν: K: A: U: U *: ∆T: Specific volume; A parameter of the geometric and material characteristics of a heat exchanger; Heat transfer area of a heat exchanger; Global heat transfer coefficient; Optimum global heat transfer coefficient; A function of the inlet and outlet temperatures of the utility and the working fluid flows.

The relationship between the pressure drop and the global heat transfer coefficient was derived after Shah and Sekulic (2002). For seawater in a closed cycle, the expression can be simplified by making the specific volume variation as zero, for the seawater does not change phase in a closed cycle. In such a case, the optimum global heat transfer coefficient depends on the volumetric variation of the seawater internal energy, besides on the geometry and materials of a specific heat exchanger. Fouling is an important factor to consider in heat exchanger operations. According to Shah and Sekulic (2002), there is a significant impact on heat exchanger surface area requirement due to fouling for high global heat transfer coefficients. Particularly for compact heat exchangers, they cannot handle heavy fouling due to small flow passages which cannot be cleaned mechanically.