Sunday, August 16, 2015

How It Works!


One trillion dollars U.S. market alone. A real figure to keep you reading. See how we get there.

This machine extracts fresh water and electricity from the ocean using a combination of cold ocean water and wind power.  Peak Water; What We're Going To Do About It was the first blog and is a general description of this technology. Basically, cold ocean water is pumped through a heat exchanger in the top of a tower. Ambient air ducted through the tower powers a turbine. Condensed water is extracted from the heat exchanger. This blog will go into more detail about unit size versus quantity of water and electricity produced.

This technology is patent pending. The numbers talked about here are theoretical but give a sound starting point to what can be expected of the real thing. A small prototype would 1. demonstrate that it works and 2. verify the quantities of water and electricity produced. The purpose of this blog is to attract interest in financing this important step. The ultimate goal is to have enough of these built and working to get back on track for CO2 emission goals and keep our climate from reaching a tipping point beyond which it will be hard to recover. And to make billions of dollars. Full disclosure. Here is a picture of the device for handy reference while I talk about it.

fresh water, power, free from ocean, next big thing, venture capital, best investment

We're going to assume the device pictured here is a 120 foot diameter cylinder about 700 feet tall with a 200 foot tall rectangular elbow on top of that. Four hundred feet is under water providing stability. It could be much smaller, but not much bigger. Also, we are going to assume the setting is the Gulf of Mexico where temperatures are warm and the air is humid (the hotter the surface environment, the better it works). The average wind speed is 18 mph, average temperature is 74.2 degrees F., and the average humidity is 60%.

We'll start at the top and work our way down. Because the wind collector is about 300 feet above the ocean's surface the wind is going to blow about 4 mph more on average. The elbow at the top gathers the wind. It is 200 feet tall and 120 feet wide. With the doors open, the wind-gathering area is about 60,000 sq. feet. This wind is squished into the top of the cylinder which has an area of 11,300 sq. feet. That is a ratio of 5.3 to 1. All that air is being scrunched up and forced down a vertical tube. With that ratio a 22  mph wind should become 117 mph going down this vertical tower. No, it does not. There's a lot of frictional losses. Some of the air backs up in the collection cone and spills out around the edges. It's a process that is about 50% efficient. The air going into the top of the cylinder is only going 58 mph. It then goes through the heat exchanger. This is a specially designed heat exchanger to allow a large throughput of air with as little impediment as possible. Even so, it will reduce the air velocity by about 30%. Our 58 mph becomes 41 mph.

As the air leaves the exchanger it is much cooler (55 degrees F) and denser and begins to accelerate down in a reverse stack affect. As it drops the 200 feet to the wind turbine it gains another 15 mph to hit the turbine at 56 mph. Here's the link to input numbers to calculate the stack effect.

We will now calculate the wind power density at the turbine to find out how much energy we can extract. WPD=1/2 density of air x velocity of air cubed. In this case the wind power density works out to 19,309 watts per meter squared. Our turbine area is 11,300 ft sq. That converts to 1,050 square meters. The total watts is 1,050 x 19,309 = 20,274,450 watts or 20.2 MW (megawatts).

Water is easier to estimate but less accurate. That's because the math involved in determining how much water will condense out on the heat exchanger is very complex. But we can look at how much water is available and a realistic percentage of what we can extract.

We know the area of the heat exchanger and the velocity of air. The area is 11,300 square feet. The velocity is an average of the inlet 58 mph and the outlet 41 mph which is about 50 mph. That's about 3 billion cubic feet per hour.

There are .0094 pounds of water in a pound of air at 60% humidity. A pound of air at 74 degrees will take up about 13 cubic feet of volume. There are 230 million pounds of air going through the heat exchanger per hour. 230x.0094=2.162 so there are approximately 2.2 million pounds of water going through the exchanger per hour. That's 275,000 gallons of water per hour. Let's say we can get only 20 percent efficiency in removing this water. Fifty-five thousand gallons per hour times 24 equals 1,320,000 gallons of water per day. It's nearly half a billion gallons of water per year. Free (after capital costs). It would provide 170,000 households their average daily consumption of 80 gallons per day. If it were bottled and sold to the public at the current average price of $1.21 per gallon it would bring in close to $600,000,000 per year. But let's say only 8% was bottled and the rest pumped into the general water supply so that water brought in just $50,000,000 per year.

How much is our electricity worth? The average residential customer payed about 12.5 cents per kwh (kilowatt hour). We're producing about 200,000,000 kwh per year so that's about $22,300,000 dollars per year.

We now have combined revenues of $72,300,000 per year. How much did it cost to get there? Keep in mind this is a much simpler device than an offshore rig; even simpler than a cruise ship. A cruise ship costs about $2.50 a pound to fabricate. Let's figure we can get this built for $2.25. The unit as described above weighs about 7 million pounds. About $16 million. Transportation and anchorage $5 million. Twenty miles of cable and pipe to transport electricity and water at $1 million per mile = $20 million. Miscellaneous expenses of $2 million. That's a total of $43 million.



$72 minus $43 million leaves $29 million in profit the first year. Second year it will be $72 million minus $2 million in maintenance. Since there are offshore rigs out there over 40 years old, we can assume our simpler structure has at least a 40 year lifespan. The total revenue is $2.8 billion. And that is just one unit. Imagine 200 units in the Gulf of Mexico, 50 on the east coast of Florida and 150 off the south coast of California. Now we're talking a trillion dollar market in the U.S. alone. Now think of the Middle East, India, Pakistan, South America, South Africa, and Australia. Another couple of trillion. Per year.

Now you know what I know. Apart from building a working prototype to pin down the numbers thrown about here, I'm not sure what to do next. What is the least awkward way to finance that prototype? Has anyone reading this developed similar sized projects? Incorporate? Kickstarter campaign? Venture Capital? Shark Tank? Your input would be helpful here.

Thanks,

Glen Hendrix

Monday, July 6, 2015

Peak Water: New Technology Shows Promise


With all the talk of peak oil, it is hard to believe that something as important as peak water may have already come and gone with no equivalent hue and cry. The major constriction for producing food for a burgeoning population is water - not land. 
According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, nearly 5 billion people, about half of global grain production, and 45% of the GPD ($63 trillion dollars) will be at risk due to lack of water with current consumption practices. Eighteen countries; including the big-three grain producers China, India, and the U.S.; are now over-pumping their aquifers. For 20 years Saudi Arabia was self-sufficient in growing wheat. They have nearly exhausted their aquifer and will quit growing wheat in 2016. Recent droughts in California and Texas seem bad but there is evidence that a major portion of the Southwest U.S. underwent a 10-year drought with hardly a drop of rain several hundred years ago. Inexpensive desalination is needed.


One of the largest storehouses of energy lies quietly at the bottom of the ocean. It is not oil, and it is not methane hydrate. It is cold water. Specifically, it is deep ocean water, also known as DOW, from the upper levels of the Midnight Zone at 3,300 to 13,200 feet deep. Approximately 90% of the ocean by volume is deep ocean water. This water is at a temperature of 32˚ to 37˚F. More correctly, it might be called a storehouse of a relative lack of energy because it is only the combination with a more energetic (warmer) mass that results in an extractable form of energy. That more energetic mass would, of course, be the warm upper regions of the Twilight Zone and the Sunlight Zone of the ocean and the tropospheric layer of the atmosphere.

courtesy Wikipedia

Although this is the coldest water, anything 2,500 feet and deeper in the ocean is about 46˚F, which is considered "cold ocean water" and is usable for the applications described here. More than 90% of the oceans are greater than 2,500 feet. 

The best place to exploit this temperature differential is the Tropics where the temperatures near and above the surface of the water are mild to hot year around. Fortunately, approximately 40% of the world's surface lies in the Tropics and it includes a lot of DOW and cold ocean water. While a tropical climate is the most efficient location for extracting water and power, an appreciable percentage of the North and South temperate zones have sufficiently warm weather to make this practical. For the United States that would include the coastline and offshore of states along the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern coast of Florida and the southern coast of California.

Cold ocean water in combination with warm, humid tropical and subtropical air will provide an opportunity to meet water and power needs for the future.

For just the cost of equipment and maintenance the system described here will provide both water and electricity. It is basically a tower mounted on a spar-type, offshore platform. Deep, cold ocean water is pumped into a gas-to-liquid heat exchanger in the top of the tower. Wind is concentrated and re-directed into the heat exchanger. The air becomes cooler and the humidity condenses out onto the surface of the heat exchanger and is collected. Because cool air is denser it accelerates toward the bottom of the tower; essentially a reverse stack effect. A wind turbine at the bottom of the tower harvests the wind energy before it leaves through openings around the base of the tower. The collected water and generated electricity is sent to shore.




Another version is built on the shoreline and uses an onshore reservoir to store the water. This stored water produces electricity that makes up for slumps in production from the wind turbine.



Another version is free-floating with its own propulsion. With the ability to produce electricity and water, it will become a base for mining, aquafarming, recycling ocean plastic, or scientific studies. These could be very independent, almost like tiny nations with their own GPD and tax laws. They could move wherever needed to provide power and fresh water as well as food.



This free ranging version could work in conjunction with special sea-going barges. These would store fresh water and hydrogen from the electrolysis of sea water. When the barge is full, it is towed the nearest port in need of water and fuel.

Barge to lighter water and hydrogen to shore. Top tank is for hydrogen, bottom two for water.

The central spar provides stability for the tower even in high winds and heavy seas. Although it resembles an offshore drilling or production rig, it is much more simple and less expensive. It is even simpler than a cruise ship to construct. Cruise ships are currently running between $2 and $3 dollars per pound to construct. 

A unit 120 feet in diameter, 300 feet tall (the spar below the surface counterbalances and structurally stabilizes the tower even in high wind) could produce 20MW on average and between two and five million gallons of water per day. At 7 million pounds it would cost about 18 million dollars. The electricity and water produced would retail for about 25 million dollars per year so the unit could conceivably pay for itself in a year. A hundred of these in the Gulf of Mexico could provide the same amount of water as the Brazos River watershed and as much electricity as a large nuclear plant. That would also provide the ability to cool the surface water temperature of a large area and reduce the strength of storms and hurricanes before they reach land.

Advantages:
  1. Bird deaths eliminated.
  2. Even if it's located onshore, the sound of the turbine is mitigated by the tower wall.
  3. Flickering shadows on the surrounding landscape are eliminated.
  4. Maintains a cool environment for heat-generating rotating parts of the turbine no matter what the external environment.
  5. The horizontal plane of the turbine allows more efficient, longer lasting bearings to be used. 
  6. The horizontal plane of the turbine also eliminates gravity and wind load fluctuations making the blade construction cheaper.
  7. The seawater in contact with the inner, hard-to-clean surfaces of the device is too cold and salty to form algae, minimizing maintenance.
  8. No chemicals to leak into the environment.
  9. Produces power even when the wind is still due to the reverse stack effect.
  10. No azimuth yaw mechanisms needed to keep wind turbine aligned.
  11. Being at sea eliminates land purchase or rental.
  12. Nutrient-rich deep ocean water can be used for aquatic farming near the surface.
  13. There's plenty of "fuel" since 90% of the ocean's volume is between 32ºF and 37ºF and 40% of the world is tropical or subtropical. 

Courtesy JiaJenn31 of Deviant Art


Ever since I wrote a blog The Future of Wind Energy I've been thinking about this and it has finally crystalized into something useful.This is patent pending technology looking for a sugar daddy. A prototype needs to be built and tested. That takes money I've not raised. If you're reading this and have an "in" with the likes of Bill Gates or Richard Branson or somebody at Google, send them a link. This tech is available for licensing. It is a multi-billion dollar market that is going to keep growing. Interested in looking at the patent? Contact me through "comments."

Also, it is entered in the annual NASA Create the future contest. If you feel like it is a good idea, fill out their form and vote on it. FYI - this is a popular vote and does not affect the outcome of the contest. You can look at the entries there without signing up and there are some good ones. 

At the very least, this solution can bridge the gap for humanity's needs for clean power and fresh water until nuclear fusion or some other technological breakthrough can carry the load.

Thanks,

Glen Hendrix