MANASSAS, Va. — Lockheed Martin has been chosen to help commercialize a process that uses the difference in heat between shallow and deep water to provide energy.
The company was awarded a cooperative agreement contract by the U.S. Department of Energy valued at up to $1.2 million.
Lockheed Martin will work on new technologies related to ocean thermal energy conversion, a process that utilizes both warm shallow water and cold deep water from the ocean to generate power.
One of the barriers to commercializing the process is making and installing wide piping that can reach thousands of feet into the ocean and move massive amounts of water. Through the contract, Lockheed Martin will develop prototype and pilot plant pipes using fiberglass technology and low-cost composite material manufacturing.
Previous ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) experiments have taken place around Hawaii, the first of which was conducted in 1979. A converted Navy barge, called Mini-OTEC, operated at sea for three months, and provided enough net energy to power its lights, computers and televisions. Lockheed Martin was also involved in that OTEC trial, and various other tests of the system have been conducted in the years since.
“Our independent research and development work to date has shown OTEC to be technically feasible,” said Denise Saiki, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Undersea Systems business unit. “The next step is to demonstrate it on a commercial scale and this DOE contract will help accelerate our progress towards that goal."