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Published on October 9th, 2008 | by Alex Felsinger

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Lockheed Martin to Develop Ocean Thermal Energy Prototype

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October 9th, 2008 by
 

The US Department of Energy has awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.2 million contract to construct a thermal piping system to capture the ocean’s absorbed solar heat.

The energy produced could be used to generate electricity or to fuel desalination, and according to the company, the process would be relatively harmless to the ocean’s environment. While scientists began fleshing out Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion in the 70′s, no one has yet been able to manufacture a workable commercial design.[social_buttons]

Military contractor Lockheed Martin’s challenge is to create piping wide and long enough to stretch down thousands of feet under the ocean, which is believed to be the only way to make the process efficient. The temperature variant is relatively small, so large volumes of water are needed to produce a commercially-viable amount of power.

“Our independent research and development work to date has shown OTEC to be technically feasible,” said Denise Saiki, the vice president and general manager of Lockheed’s Undersea Systems business unit. “The next step is to demonstrate it on a commercial scale and this DOE contract will help accelerate our progress towards that goal.”

The company first plans to develop a full-scale fiberglass and composite material prototype to demonstrate their plans to the Department of Energy. This won’t be their first prototype: In 1974, Lockheed and Bechtel created a small-scale prototype, which is still functional to this day.

Photo Credit: Danyaa on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.



  • http://www.peswiki.com Robert Pritchett

    History repeats itself with “been there, done that” – successfully and then abandoned. So the comment about this being another boondogle from a bankrupt government is spot on -

    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Ocean_Thermal_Energy_Conversion

  • http://www.peswiki.com Robert Pritchett

    History repeats itself with “been there, done that” – successfully and then abandoned. So the comment about this being another boondogle from a bankrupt government is spot on -

    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Ocean_Thermal_Energy_Conversion

  • Paul

    OK, lets say this idea does indeed work and is cost effective to generate some reusable energy, longer range, what do you think the affects will be on the environment? If enough heat is pulled out of the ocean, does that have a positive effect on global warming, or are we just playing with “Mother Nature” and there could be consequences?

    I hope someone has been weighing these thoughts into the project?

    Also I don’t think Lockheed does anything for 1.2 million, as Lex pointed out. Thoughts???

  • Paul

    OK, lets say this idea does indeed work and is cost effective to generate some reusable energy, longer range, what do you think the affects will be on the environment? If enough heat is pulled out of the ocean, does that have a positive effect on global warming, or are we just playing with “Mother Nature” and there could be consequences?

    I hope someone has been weighing these thoughts into the project?

    Also I don’t think Lockheed does anything for 1.2 million, as Lex pointed out. Thoughts???

  • prospark

    This technology could also be used to bring cold water up from the seafloor to use for distributing cooling in urban areas.

  • prospark

    This technology could also be used to bring cold water up from the seafloor to use for distributing cooling in urban areas.

  • OTEC

    The idea isn’t to come up with an efficient design for OTEC. It’s to come up with a few promising results to secure more funding and milk it as long as possible.

  • OTEC

    The idea isn’t to come up with an efficient design for OTEC. It’s to come up with a few promising results to secure more funding and milk it as long as possible.

  • Lex

    1.2 million? That’s nothing!

    With this money they’re going to create “piping wide and long enough to stretch down thousands of feet under the ocean” ??

    My guess is that the world needs at least 1.2 Billion, a year, of investment into alternative energy sources.

    Maybe it’s a typo..

  • Lex

    1.2 million? That’s nothing!

    With this money they’re going to create “piping wide and long enough to stretch down thousands of feet under the ocean” ??

    My guess is that the world needs at least 1.2 Billion, a year, of investment into alternative energy sources.

    Maybe it’s a typo..

  • John Savage

    Those are some pretty smart folk there at Lockhead Martin for sure!

    Jiff

    http://www.privacy.de.tc

  • John Savage

    Those are some pretty smart folk there at Lockhead Martin for sure!

    Jiff

    http://www.privacy.de.tc

  • adamwho

    Sounds like a boondoggle for Lockheed.

  • http://blog.800hightech.com 800HighTech

    If anyone can come up with an efficient design for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, it’s these guys.

  • adamwho

    Sounds like a boondoggle for Lockheed.

  • http://blog.800hightech.com 800HighTech

    If anyone can come up with an efficient design for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, it’s these guys.

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