Essay on Thermal Energy Conversion

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The demand for an efficient renewable energy source is a driving force in ongoing research. Thermal energy conversion is one such potential source that is under constant investigation and has endless avenues of possibility. The two requirements of energy production are efficiency and renewability. Many possibilities exist for energy production including: Fossil Fuels (natural gas, oil, coal, oilshale), nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and wastes, & hydroelectric. Efficiency of the use of these resource are directly related to the location and the demand in that location. For example Hawaii is a prime candidate for the use of the oceans mechanical wave action, the thermal gradient of the ocean, wind, and biomass from the high …show more content…
There are three types of energy converters producing electricity: closed cycle, open cycle, and a hybrid system combining the previous two systems. Closed cycle OTEC systems use the warm surface water to boil a fluid that has a low boiling point (e.g. ammonia). The pressure caused by the expanding vapor is then used to turn a turbine. The turbine then turns a generator to produce electricity. Cold water is then used to recycle the vapor back to a condensed state and the cycle is repeated. An open cycle system directly boils the warm surface water. Operating at low pressure, the steam that is created is channeled in turn to a turbine engine. The water vapor is condensed again by cold water. If the condensed water is kept seperate from the cold seawater it can be used for consumption or agriculture. Other by-products produced by the open cycle OTEC are a variety of minerals. Both cycles produce electricity through the use of solar warmed water.

Steam Powered Turbine Engine

Capturing the power of steam is not a new idea but one that has been used for hundreds of years. A jet of steam can readily do work on an object by the jet propolsion effect of steam escaping through a small guided hole or by a stream colliding with a system of paddle wheels. Most early steam powered machines used the principles of the latter. The system of paddles, or turbine, was used to drive a shaft which in turn could drive any number of gear or belt driven mechanisms. The