Makai Ocean Engineering is preparing to commence operations on grid-connected ocean thermal energy plant the BigIsland in Hawaii, US.

Said to be the the largest such plant in operation, the facility is designed to generate clean power using changes in ocean water temperature.

It will adapt the ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) process, and use deep, cold seawater and surface seawater.

OTEC is said to be a clean power source, environmentally sustainable, and able to provide massive levels of energy.

Ocean surface water will vapourise a low-boiling liquid, such as ammonia, to drive a turbine that will generate electricity.

Cold water from the ocean floor will be used to condense and cool the ammonia, and the process is repeated.

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By GlobalData
"Ocean surface water will vapourise a low-boiling liquid, such as ammonia, to drive a turbine that will generate electricity."

Makai Ocean Engineering is an engineering and design company that offers submarine cable software and services, marine pipelines, seawater air conditioning (SWAC), ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), underwater vehicles, and general marine engineering and R&D.

Earlier this month, the company opened Marine Corrosion Laboratory (MCL) in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Located at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), the MCL will perform research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) in the field of marine corrosion.

The centre will also work on advanced alloys and manufacturing techniques for heat exchangers, which will be corrosion-resistant, low-cost, compact and highly efficient.

In 2013, Makai Ocean Engineering received a $3.6m grant from the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, and the Office of Naval Research to further develop the OTEC technology.

Image: OTEC facility at Keahole Point on the Kona coast of Hawaii. Photo: Public Domain.