Today we visited a bunch of really interesting facilities at this place known as NELHA. It’s a large section of land in Kona that assists with research support, economic development and works as a business incubator. The mission statement of NELHA is to provide a support facility for research on ocean thermal energy conversions and related technologies. Some of the facilities on the property operate aquaculture and mariculture raising groupers and kampachi. Another facility was using mariculture to raise abalone which they distribute to the mainland and in Hawaii. A third facility takes in injured and malnutritioned monk seals from the protected marine area that makes up the northwestern islands. All the facilities operating within NELHA are utilizing cold and warm water that is being pumped in through a 55 inch pipe. This water allows all these facilities to maintain the proper water temperatures they need to operate.
The most interesting facility in NELHA though was the ocean thermal energy conversion plant. This plant is making electricity out of the temperature differentials of the ocean waters . They pump in cold deep water and shallow warm water which are used to evoprate and condense ammonia liquid in a closed system making electricity. The ammonia has a lower boiling point then the seawater, so the ammonia is able to boil from being near the warm shallow seawater in a system of pipes. Once it boils and evoprates it passes through a turbine to spin it and makes electricity. Once the ammonia passes through the turbine the colder deep seawater cools it , condensing it and returning it back to a liquid state. It then restarts the system all over again . This plant is producing clean renewable energy without the use of fossil fuels. Hawaii is a perfect location for this plant because the deep cold water is close offshore because there’s no continental shelf. The cold water comes up from 3,000 feet down and the warm water comes from about 150 feet down. This plant is an emerging technology and appears to be working very very good so far.