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The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea (Wired article)
August 25, 2005 6:03 AM   Subscribe

The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea
Unlimited energy. Fast-growing fruit. Free air-conditioning. John Piña Craven says we can have it all by tapping the icy waters of the deep.
posted by Edible Energy (33 comments total)

 
I want so badly for this to work.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:31 AM on August 25, 2005


I already stopped by Wired this morning, thanks. I also liked this article
posted by poppo at 6:36 AM on August 25, 2005


Craven features heavily in Blind Man's Bluff. I'm not 100% sold on his cold water therapy yet, I'd like to see some studies, but whatever kooky ideas he may have he's also a hell of an engineer and visionary.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:37 AM on August 25, 2005


The funny thing is I just assumed your link was a new article from today. It's actually from June.
posted by poppo at 6:37 AM on August 25, 2005


what's your point poppo?
posted by Edible Energy at 6:44 AM on August 25, 2005


Poppo: sorry, didn't read your first comment, now I understand.
posted by Edible Energy at 6:50 AM on August 25, 2005


I also noticed it was from a while ago, because I'd read it when it was published.
However, scanning though, I remembered that I was very interested in the content and I realised I hadn't seen it mentioned in MeFi so I didn't say anything. There was no need.
Whats more, I didn't want to get caught sounding like a whiny kid bully trying to fit in with the bigger boys: "Hey, Ed's posted a link older than a day. Hnur, hnur. Wot a luser."

Get a better hobby, pops, we know it's not the best post this year, but if you're really offended then click the flag and wipe your bogies elsewhere.
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:51 AM on August 25, 2005


Don't be obtuse EE. You know my point. Newsfilter, one-link FPP, etc etc. Yes, I know you think it's a topic worth talking about, I do too. But put a little meat in there. Some links to organizations that are moving forward with this research, pros, cons, anecdotes, anything.

Anything but a single link to a Wired article from two months ago.
posted by poppo at 6:52 AM on August 25, 2005


Poppo, STFU.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:53 AM on August 25, 2005


NinjaPirate, it's spelled "boogers". There, I win.

Sorry all, NinjaPirate is right, I have no reason to be an asshole. I could have just skipped with the sarcasm.
posted by poppo at 6:54 AM on August 25, 2005


Craven's system exploits the dramatic temperature difference between ocean water below 3,000 feet - perpetually just above freezing...

If we begin exploting the temperature differential between the deep ocean and the rest of the planet - effectively pumping heat into the deep ocean - then by what magical process will it stay "perpetually just above freezing" down there?
posted by Western Infidels at 6:55 AM on August 25, 2005


Welll.......

What happens when the temperature of the ocean rises and the watery 2/3rds of the Earth's surface becomes choked with plankton?

Ocean currents dramatically affect inland climates - will this not redirect or dissipate them?

"There's no such thing as a free lunch" - anonymous
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:56 AM on August 25, 2005


If, as is probable, the forthcoming shortages of oil cause widespread rioting and loss of government control, then, if you happen to be in one of the few remaining pockets of government control, say, on a remote tropical island such as Diego Garcia or the Marianas, then, this idea would be a real lifesaver... free electricity and drinking water, for ever!

For those of us who don't live on tropical islands next to deep-sea waters (without a continental shelf) this plan won't help.

So when the oil peaks, we're still fucked.

Next?
posted by cleardawn at 6:57 AM on August 25, 2005


For those of us who don't live on tropical islands next to deep-sea waters (without a continental shelf) this plan won't help.

Yes, that national network of electrical lines won't help a bit.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:00 AM on August 25, 2005


The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea

What a great title. Good band name also.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:02 AM on August 25, 2005


Cool ideas, I love this kind of stuff. I wish that there was a bit more about that science and engineering behind it all. The last page of the Wired article makes it all sound so simple that I'm suspicious.
posted by OmieWise at 7:03 AM on August 25, 2005


Interesting read. I am interested to see how the Saipan scenario pans out. If he gets the go ahead that is.
posted by a3matrix at 7:06 AM on August 25, 2005


(poppo resealed my can of Impotent Ire)
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:07 AM on August 25, 2005


More about Craven and CHC.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:18 AM on August 25, 2005


Fine, wonderful idea.

If it was thought out. Once you actually think out the idea, note how the ocean heat pump works on temp differences, and note how Methane hydrates could stop being ice and become gas - well, the idea stops being so wonderful.

But hey, keep grasping at straws!
posted by rough ashlar at 7:25 AM on August 25, 2005


Toronto has already started to harness the power of deep water to air condition many of their buildings downtown.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:27 AM on August 25, 2005


What the world doesn't understand," says Craven, still zigzagging through the parking lot, "is that what we don't have enough of is cold, not heat."

Interesting, thanks EE. The future is harnessing natural differentials for our benefit. I wish we were better at doing that socially.

MetaFilter: 25,000 people a day urinating in a submarine.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:36 AM on August 25, 2005


monju_bosatsu: Last time I checked, the US was surrounded by a continental shelf.

If you read the article, the inventor points out that his system only works on deep-sea islands.

I presume that's because the water would be somewhat heated by the hundreds of miles of pipe that would be necessary to take the water from the deeps to the coast over the shallow waters of the shelf.
posted by cleardawn at 7:42 AM on August 25, 2005


"Once primed, the pipe acts like a giant siphon..."

Umm.... what? Last time I checked, islands are higher than 3,000 feet below the ocean, meaning a siphon would work in the opposite direction. Am I missing some important part of the physics here?
posted by odinsdream at 7:43 AM on August 25, 2005


"we all live in a yellow submarine"
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:47 AM on August 25, 2005


If it was thought out. Once you actually think out the idea, note how the ocean heat pump works on temp differences, and note how Methane hydrates could stop being ice and become gas - well, the idea stops being so wonderful.

But hey, keep grasping at straws!


rough ashlar-Since none of the contributors to this thread was the orginator of the idea, maybe your snark would be more effective if you explained what the hell you mean. It seems like you know what you're talking about, but rather than enlightening me, your comment makes me feel as if I should feel like a jerk for not understanding.
posted by OmieWise at 7:55 AM on August 25, 2005


CynicalKnight

If you're going to say TANSTAAFL in an internet discussion, I think you are obliged (whether it's true or not) to attribute the quote to Heinlein.

;)
posted by Yellowbeard at 8:24 AM on August 25, 2005


I first saw this idea in an Usborne childrens' book, an ernormous undersea heat exchanger. They were pretty inaccurate with most of their predictions, and I wouldn't be suprised if they were wrong on this one. Some of Craven's other ideas may work, but this one presents itself in a similar way to the 'electricity so cheap you can't meter it' we were all going to enjoy from nuclear power stations.

The reason that these big projects get funding is that the power companies want to keep a monopoly on electricity generation. The realistic ways to cope with electricity generation all revolve around small, local and renewable energy sources that are anathema to the corporate minded and their political representitives.

I have often wondered about the oceans ability to absorb the constant stream of water heated to above the normal temperature by just about everything that happens in the 'developed' world. From chip manufacture to car-washes we piss water away at a staggering rate./ OT

OmieWise - Methane Hydrates

Methane hydrates occur extensively today all over the world. They consist of methane stored within unstable water bound deposits that if disturbed release the methane.
posted by asok at 9:14 AM on August 25, 2005


asok-Thanks for the link. That's just what I wanted to know, and now the idea does, indeed, seem more daft than cool.
posted by OmieWise at 10:29 AM on August 25, 2005


More details about OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory [interesting to note their FP disclaimer about discontinued involvement].

There are significant problems to overcome:

To accelerate the development of OTEC systems, researchers need to:
• Obtain data on OTEC plant operation with appropriately sized demonstration plants
• Develop and characterize cold-water pipe technology and create a database of information on materials, design, deployment, and installation
• Conduct further research on the heat exchanger systems to improve heat transfer performance and decrease costs
• Conduct research in the areas of innovative turbine concepts for the large machines required for open-cycle systems
• Identify and evaluate advanced concepts for ocean thermal energy extraction


The basic OTEC concept was first proposed in 1881 by Jacques-Arsène d’Arsonval, a French doctor and electrophysicist.
posted by cenoxo at 11:57 AM on August 25, 2005


I don't understand why you couldn't just build a platform near the continental shelf and use the energy production to power some sort of chemical energy storage (generate hydrogen from water) and then come by every so often and pick it up.
posted by kookywon at 2:33 PM on August 25, 2005


oops... from this wikipedia article it looks like india might already be building a floating one.
posted by kookywon at 2:40 PM on August 25, 2005


Odinsdream:

Umm.... what? Last time I checked, islands are higher than 3,000 feet below the ocean, meaning a siphon would work in the opposite direction. Am I missing some important part of the physics here?

I think it works because the seawater is pumped back into the deep ocean after being used for heat exchange.

As long as the outlet is lower than the intake, gravity, and nature's abhorrence of a vacuum, should keep things flowing.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:46 PM on August 26, 2005


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