Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Cool Idea

At Green Inc., a New York Times blog, there is an interesting article up about the use of seawater for cooling and energy. The author, Kate Galbraith, points out that cold seawater already forms the basis for an air-conditioning system at several sites.  
At around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, chilly seawater can be used to air-condition buildings. The seawater “can chill fresh water in a heat exchanger or flow directly into a cooling system,” according to the Department of Energy.
Although the air-conditioning technology is already functional, Galbraith also links to another article of hers, "Generating Energy From the Deep," that looks at a much more dramatic effort to use seawater to create energy. Lockheed Martin and other companies are working on methods that use the temperature differential between cold & warm sea water to produce renewable energy. As with most alternative energy proposals, there are all sorts of problems and drawbacks, including massive cost, but it is an interesting idea to keep an eye on.


  1. This isn't "swamp cooling", is it? That's what we had when we lived in El Paso, TX. Swamp cooling only lowers temperatures about 20 degrees. Fine if it's 80 degrees outside, not so much if it's 120 degrees. (40 days where it never got under 100 the summer between junior and senior year in high school. It wasn't good for my mother's heart.)

  2. Swamp cooling works by evaporating water in dry climates. It's basically a machine that sweats.

    The seawater cooling here involves pumping cold water from the deep and works by convection and heat-exchange.

  3. I've heard of swamp cooling but not sure it operates on a similar principle. According to the article the cold water is used as part of a heat exchange system.

  4. Oops, I see Gherald already answered the question while I was typing.