by Thomnas Daniel, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority U.S.A.
The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Hawaii (SOH), operates facilities at NELH and HOST Park at Keahole Point on the Big Island of Hawaii. Academic, government and commercial tenants lease facilities and land from the authority to perform a wide range of experiments with ocean water pumped ashore from the surface and from depths of 600m.
Currently, an open-cycle project, conducted by PICHTR with funding from the SOH and the U.S. Department of Energy, has exceeded its design goals of 210 kw gross electrical output and is scheduled to begin a full year of continuous operation in January 1994. A closed-cycle project being developed with support from the SOH by Alupower Inc., Hawaiian Electric Industries and Makai Ocean Engineering, is designed to produce about 100 kw in a demonstration of "roll-bonded" aluminum heat exchangers.
Other energy projects being developed at NELHA include cold seawater air conditioning systems for lab building and for the expansion of the nearby Keahole Airport; distillation systems for freon and ethanol, freshwater production from humid air, and photovoltaic-powered seawater electrolysis for hydrogen production.
Common Heritage Corporation has developed a tropical garden cooled by cold seawater, in which more than 79 varieties of vegetables and plants have successfully been grown.
A variety of aquaculture projects use the cold temperature, high nutrient content and purity of the deep seawater to culture many different plants and animals. Edible sea vegetables, spirulina microalgae, salmon, lobsters, flounder, shrimp, tilapia, abalone and oysters are all being cultured commercially at the facility.