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OTEC cold-water pipe research

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2 Author(s)
J. Vadus ; NOAA Office of Oceanography and Marine Services, Rockville, MD ; B. Taylor

Shelf-mounted Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plants require installation of cold-water pipes (CWP) on slopes of 40\deg to depths of 1000 m. In addition, tower platforms containing OTEC power systems may be located on lesser sloped terrain near shore and exposed to special environmental loading problems affecting foundation design. Shelf-mounted installations require careful attention to site selection and geotechnical considerations for foundation integrity on sloped surfaces. This paper primarily discusses research associated with cold-water pipe and foundation installations on steep slopes, although research continues on tower platforms located on the shelf. At least five nations are in various stages of development of OTEC systems for island applications. Each of their systems is either shelf mounted or land based and requires that a large diameter cold-water pipe be installed on a steep slope to provide cold water from 1000-m depths. In addition to the installation and deployment of the large cold-water pipe, the most significant problem is the design and installation of suitable foundations that will last for several decades. To date there is very little experience in the offshore industry for large installations on steep slopes. A major scale-model research project is underway on the slopes of the island of Hawaii. A section of pipe 2.4 m in diameter and 24 m long was installed using combination concrete foundations and joints. The pipe and foundations are fully instrumented to measure environmental loading forces due principally to currents and waves. Environmental measurements will also be taken in the test area. The measurement data will be used to validate available analytical models for subsequent use in aiding industry in providing more cost-effective designs for OTEC pipes and foundations.

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering  (Volume:10 ,  Issue: 2 )