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By Robert Rapier on May 7, 2009 with no responses

Interview with The Reef Tank

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a website called The Reef Tank about doing an interview with them on Energy and The Marine World. At first I said that this was a bit outside my expertise, but they said that was OK; I could just try to answer the questions to the best of my ability. We discussed my background and my interest in energy, this blog, climate change, and energy from the oceans.

They have asked me if I would mind linking to the interview so they might reach a scientifically-minded audience that is of a somewhat different cross-section than what they might normally reach. The interview is available at the link above. Below are excerpts:

Tell me about your interest in the potential of wave and tidal power.

I became interested in the topic several years ago. I was watching a story on the Panama Canal, and watched the level of a ship fall as the water in one of the locks was pumped down. I started thinking about the energy that could be extracted as that massive ship moved to a lower level. That led me to investigate wave power, which is similar in principle to the water rising and falling in a lock. Little did I know when I started investigating that a large body of work had already taken place in this area. Looking into waves naturally caused me to happen upon tidal power as well, and the enormous potential of the flow of the Gulf Stream. [RR: See this story that I did in early 2008: Infinite Underwater Energy.]

Tell me about your interest in ocean thermal energy conversion. How does it work?

I didn’t know too much about ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) until I was contacted last year by Bob Cohen, who is a friend of a friend and an advocate of OTEC. [RR: See Bob's guest post here on OTEC: Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion.] The principle is pretty straightforward. Anywhere you have temperature differentials – such as a warm ocean surface and much colder layers deep down – you can use those differentials to extract work via a heat engine. You are essentially capturing some of the heat flow from the higher temperature reservoir to the lower.

I am sitting in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport right now, about to fly back to the U.S. When I get home, I am going to take my first real vacation with the family in a long time. I don’t expect to post anything or answer e-mails for the next week. Please keep the discussions civil, and if trolls show up just ignore them and I will deal with them when I can. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the readers and regular posters who make this effort worthwhile.

Aloha. :-)