Thứ Tư, 18 tháng 8, 2010

The Blue Revolution Partnership

This blog site is a partnership of various individuals shown on the right.

Our initial posting is CHAPTER 4: THE BLUE REVOLUTION from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth:

(those numbers represent references from the book) 

Our Oceans

Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the fifth largest in the solar system, having formed about 4.8 billion years ago. The circumference is 40,000 km (24,855 miles) and the mean temperature at the surface is 14°C (57°F). Earth has a Teutonic origin, but is only called so in English. However, it is Erde in German.

Our last common ancestor formed 3.5 billion years ago, a loosely knit mélange of early cells that later evolved into bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. The surprise for those who left school some time ago is archaea, which was first identified in 1977. Even today, software programs, such as Microsoft Word, gently provide a red underline when you type in “archaea,” because it has not yet been recognized as a real word. Archaea occupies its own division of organisms, but had a common ancestor with bacteria a few billion years ago. If we trace our roots to some ape, then deeper to microorganisms, we came from archaea, not bacteria.

Using a space analogy, astrophysicists recently learned that dark matter, something we can't see, makes up most of the universe. If you weigh all the living mass of the ocean, there is a lot more bacteria than all the macroorganisms (like fish and seaweed) in the sea. There is only a slightly lower amount of archaea than bacteria. Furthermore, there is more bacteria and archaea in the seas than the total weight of what lives on land and in the atmosphere. Worst yet, because they cause diseases, there are more viruses in seawater than bacteria. Thus, there are huge challenges to closing the growth cycle to produce specific seafood varieties. Go to APPENDIX A for more details.

Interesting that 99% of ocean microorganisms cannot be grown in a typical laboratory. Yet, by 2007 Craig Venter led a two year scientific voyage, trawling the world’s oceans for bacteria and viruses. He doubled the number of known genes in our ecosystem, revealing 6 million new proteins, and this, just from 200 new organisms sequenced to date.288

Well, in the beginning, how did the oceans form? About a billion years ago there was one supercontinent called Rodinia, which broke apart 750 million years ago, and reformed 150 million years later into Pannotia, which split again 50 million years later, reorganizing as Pangaea about 275 million years ago, and, finally, about 100 million years later, began separating into the current conformation. Thus, we have had three different supercontinents, and, in time, will form a fourth and more when they all come together again, for we have another 5 billion years or so before the Sun engulfs us.

Seventy one percent of our globe at the surface is water, about 149 million km2 land to 362 million km2 (140 million square miles) ocean/lake/river. Three percent of water is fresh, but half of that is locked up as ice. If all the ice melts, the surface of the ocean would rise by about 76 meters (250 feet).

The added factor about our oceans is that it is three-dimensional, with 1.4 billion cubic kilometers (336 million mi3) of space in which to operate. On land we are pretty much only two-dimensional, with skyscrapers here and there, where the tallest will soon be 705 meters (2323 ft) when the Burj Dubai is completed.

The average depth of our oceans is 13,124 feet (4000 meters), with the Mariana Trench being the deepest at 36,200 feet (11,033 m), about one and a third of a mile deeper than Mt. Everest (29,035 ft, 8850 m) is high. The Pacific Ocean is twice as big as the Atlantic, and larger than the Atlantic, Indian and Arctic Oceans combined.

The coastlines are obviously receiving the brunt of any pollution, but even there, waste is mostly nutrient for most ocean biota. There are toxic dangers, but certain fish species, tuna, for example, supposedly tainted with mercury, are so because this variety feeds at a high trophic level, meaning that it eats fish which might eat other fish, thus concentrating mostly natural mercury.

Yes, certainly, cruise ships should not surreptitiously dump garbage, oil spills do occur and agricultural effluents can be pesky, but, as a whole, the ocean is in okay shape. It is important, though, that we keep it that way, and, in fact improve conditions if economically possible.

Over much of the ocean, the temperature variation is on the order of 10°C (18°F) or less, although the sub-tropic and tropical belt can vary by nearly twice that range, very useful for the concept of ocean thermal energy conversion. On land, the temperature can range from -88°C (-126°F) to 58° (136°F), or a differential of 262 degrees F. The ocean, thus, is a secure environment in terms of living conditions. There is a layer, called the euphotic zone, from the surface to about 600 feet deep, the limit of sunlight penetration, that has immense potential as our next source of food, natural materials and habitats.

Macroalgae can grow more efficiently than any land plant, for there are no roots that restrict its nutrient flow. The entire plant can absorb nourishment, plus, energy is not wasted building structural material to keep the plant vertical. A marine biomass plantation fed by upwelled fluids does not need to be fertilized (for the deep ocean has all the minerals needed for marine growth), nor irrigated. Plus, roads need not be built to transport the feedstock or the final product. Where there is biomass, there can be more seafood. The total system concept makes environmental and economic sense.

The operative term here is mindful of Francis Bacon, who wrote his Novum Organum in 1620, declaring that scientists prattle but don’t generate. Bacon was interested in the practical benefits. As an engineer, many times in conflict with big science advocates found on all major university campuses, who mostly enjoy observing and modeling, this chapter heavily leans in the direction of useful applications, as will the entire book.

The Blue Revolution, then, is this attempt at a monumental transformation, utilizing the ocean to produce products for humanity in harmony with the natural environment. It is blue to symbolize the ocean, as opposed to green for land production.

The State of Ocean Energy 237

Chapter 2 provides information on terrestrial energy options. This section, while condensed, focuses on the renewable marine energy alternatives. All the details can be read through Google by typing in “unesco, anton bruun memorial lecture, 2003,” a PowerPoint presentation my colleagues and I prepared for the United Nations. The lecture is 38 slides long. A fuller treatment is being provided for ocean thermal energy conversion in the following discussion because this is will be the prime source for driving the Blue Revolution. The primary advantages of ocean energy are that the fuel is free, natural and forever.

A paper by A.T. Jones and W. Finley (no citation) estimates that the energy available from waves, temperature gradient and salinity gradient are on the order of 2 to 2.7 Terrawatt (the average electrical power consumption of the world is in this range), while that of currents and tides are about a hundred times less. Other estimates vary by a factor of a hundred either way, for wave power alone can supposedly supply five times world energy needs. Thus, when it comes to marine energy potential, take my word that it is a big unknown.

A chapter I co-authored on Use and Misuse of the Seafloor, reports on all the completed and proposed projects up to 1991.306 The state of development of ocean energy since then can be summarized as follows:

Wave Power 34


My personal assessment of wave power is to wait and see. I am not optimistic.

Offshore Wind Power


I am bullish for this renewable technology, although much needs to be researched and developed. There is almost no current U.S. government funding for this option.

Tidal Energy


The reality is that this is a limited option. A couple of nations will no doubt begin to build rather elaborate systems, but this is not a world saving option.

Current Energy


In addition, the Japanese Kuroshiro and African Agulhas-Somali Streams have been suggested as having potential. My assessment: let’s see if anything is ever built of any magnitude.

Salinity Gradients


The problems are rampant, and include, imperfect membrane, high capital cost for plant installation and low efficiencies. Don’t hold your breath for any significant development.

Marine Biomass Plantations

Marine biomass, microalgae in particular, has long been known to be ten times more productive per unit area than land crops.325 However, the more easily managed variety is something called macroalgae, such as kelp.

A good starting point is 1968 when Howard Wilcox of the California Institute of Technology, using U.S. Navy funds, initiated a literature survey of marine plants ideal for marine plantation cultivation. Macrocystis, the giant brown kelp, prevalent along the coastline of Southern California all the way up to Alaska, was selected.228 Experimental studies show that sugarcane is about the most productive crop cultivated today. The solar capture efficiency of this specie is about 2.6%, yielding close to 100 tons per hectare of dry matter per year.178 Macrocystis, in plot tests, has been shown to be 7.5 times more productive than sugarcane, and on an areal basis, 17 times higher. Taking a rough average, say that giant brown kelp is ten times more efficient than sugar cane in converting sunlight into biomass. Ah, the potential, remembering from early in Chapter 2 that if we can only secure 0.01% of impinging sunlight, we can replace all the fossil fuels and nuclear energy currently used. Large portions of the ocean can be utilized for this option.

The Wilcox unmoored floating ocean farm was conceived to be 400 hectare (just under a thousand acres) modules, with the kelp attached in an umbrella pattern 3 meters apart, with about 1000 plants per hectare. Modified Jacobs wave pumps were to be used to bring up nutrient rich fluids from the deeper waters.

So, in 1972, Macrocystis pyrifera was grown in an open ocean farm off San Clemente, California, not far from where now the Richard Nixon Museum sits. The energy crisis then drew the partnership of the American Gas Association (Gas Research Institute, GRI) and the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration (later called the U. S. Department of Energy), with General Electric Company as the prime contractor. By 1975, the design expanded and the enterprise became known as the Ocean Food and Energy Farm.

However, the multi-product concept of Wilcox was down-focused by the new associates to provide energy only in the form of substitute or synthetic natural gas (SNG) via the anaerobic digestion of the kelp.52 Although cultivation proved successful, for high growth rates were experienced with upwelled nutrients, inclement conditions dislodged the plants and caused havoc. The Offshore Test Platform, using a Navy buoy, was tried, but upwelling proved testy and the whole system was destroyed by a storm in 1981. The federal government withdrew its support and GRI continued to look at other macroalgal species.

Follow-up work involved the U. S. Department of Energy, New York State Energy Development Authority, New York Gas Industry Group and the University of Florida Regional Biomass Program, with seaweed genetics and new bioconversion technologies added to the research mix. By 1986, when the program was essentially cancelled, most of the work was occurring on land, using herbaceous and woody feedstocks, and had moved from the West Coast to the East Coast. GRI continued to support the effort at a low rate until 1990.

I recall interacting with Wheeler North (Cal Tech) and Michael Neushal (University of California at Santa Barbara) about regenerating an upgraded program in Hawaii, and, in fact, Professor Neushal’s son, Andrew, spent some time under my tutelage as a graduate student in Hawaii. Andrew submitted a paper entitled, “OTEC and Mariculture: A Review,” but not long thereafter returned home to Santa Barbara, for a reason explained in the following paragraph. He pointed out that, while ocean projects tended to be pricey, the cost to erect a building in Tokyo was more than $55,000 per square meter, while the offshore structure for kelp could be kept below $50 per square meter. The point here is that “land” or space is free in the ocean. Further, he cited the work of Oswald Roels, reporting that the electricity from a 100 MW OTEC plant would yield $34 million/year, but an additional $516 million/year for shellfish. In many ways, this paragraph underscores the attractiveness of the Blue Revolution, that is, the total product potential and the fact that it would be foolhardy to only produce electricity.

I subsequently assisted Michael Neushal on a National Science Foundation sponsored Franco-American Workshop held in Baltimore, Maryland, which he co-chaired with Marlene Karakashian on Ocean Engineering, Biotechnology and Mariculture. More than any other scientific gathering, this is the one that planted the seed and contacts for a future effort to gain a National Science Foundation engineering research center in marine bioproducts, as described in Book 2. In the proceedings of this workshop is a statement reporting on related studies involving the work at Stanford by Irving Weissman on mammalian stem cells being bioengineered to cure cancer.170 In his 1993 cover letter, Neushal laments that the delay in completing the workshop report was due to his contracting colon cancer, which very soon thereafter overcame him.

In 2007, two Japanese groups reported on mega-projects to grow macroalgae for both global warming remediation and the production of a biofuel. An informal information-sharing coalition has been formed involving Toshitsugu Sakou, who chairs one of the Japanese teams, John Forster from the State of Washington, researchers at the University of Hawaii and the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

OTEC Background

OTEC is a proven, well-documented technology that extracts clean, renewable solar thermal energy from temperature differences in the ocean.237, 313, 343 While fusion has not yet reached that net positive plateau, in 1979, a group led by Lockheed showed for the first time in Hawaii that OTEC electricity was possible. The U.S. Federal government alone has spent more than $250 million on OTEC R&D. Japan, India, France and Taiwan have also expended many millions.

The references listed above can be consulted to learn more about the thermodynamics, technology and applications areas. Suffice to say that OTEC works in a manner just the opposite of a conventional refrigerator that consumes electricity to cool things, while discarding heat. That is, for OTEC, combine the cool (deep ocean water) and the heat (solar heated surface waters) and produce electricity. The temperature difference of the warm surface and cold deep waters can be applied in a Rankine (manner by which water is vaporized and condensed) cycle to produce electricity. As this temperature differential (about 20 Celsius degrees) is small (relative to, say, burning coal, which is at 2000 °C), the efficiency is low, meaning that the hardware must be massive and expensive. But the fuel, ocean water, is free, and no nuclear nor generated carbon, sulfur and nitrogen gaseous waste compounds are produced. However, to be perfectly correct, carbon dioxide from the deep ocean water can escape to the atmosphere if marine biomass is not utilized within the total system. Even if allowed to enter the atmosphere, though, the carbon dioxide produced is much, much less than that emitted by a coal power plant for the equivalent electricity produced.

The ocean regions which are best suited for OTEC are located in the band 20 latitude degrees north and 20 latitude degrees south of the equator. Ten thousand times more than the present total world energy demand can be supplied either through the generation of electricity or production of various energy carriers such as hydrogen, ammonia or methanol.

The primary feature of the ocean in this locality is that the surface temperatures are more than 20 C° degrees warmer than the deeper waters at 1000 meters, which the world over are in the range of 4°C (39°F—imagine being a room that cold, only 7 degrees warmer than the freezing point of water). The second advantage of this 1000 meter fluid is that it is rich in nutrients, in the exact proportion as is necessary to promote growth, for these compounds derived from decomposed sea life. For example, comparing the water quality of surface with 600 meter waters off Keahole Point in Hawaii, there is 78 times more nitrogen and 15 times more phosphorous in the deeper waters. This is like free fertilizer for marine plants.

The early history of OTEC is all French. There are three primary production cycles: closed, open and hybrid. Jacques d’Arsonval, a French engineer, first proposed the closed cycle design, a system that used ammonia as the working fluid. You probably don’t recall that your home refrigerator once circulated ammonia, then Freon, which was subsequently banned by the Montreal Protocol in 1987 for causing ozone depletion, and today uses a more environmentally acceptable refrigerant, a hydrofluorocarbon. You can avoid any binary fluid by using the open cycle process, which produces the most amount of freshwater. This cycle was utilized by D’Arsonval’s student, Georges Claude, in 1928 off Cuba. As has been the experience with many ocean energy demonstrations, a major storm damaged the equipment before Claude was able to attain net positive electricity.

An early pioneer was J. Hilbert Anderson, founder of Sea Solar Power. He presented a paper to the American Chemical Society on April 9, 1975, entitled, “Sea Solar Power and the Chemical Industry,” which described his OTEC system, originally conceived in 1962. I recall meeting with him in the early 80’s when I worked in the U.S. Senate. Supposedly, the SSP design results in a system 8 times cheaper than the prototypes funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.224 I regularly meet with Bob Nicholson, who now represents that company, as he has for several decades.

The modern history of OTEC, though, is mostly Hawaiian, with a sprinkling of Japanese, although India was at one time ready to join the net-positive club. Mini-OTEC, a venture headed by Lockheed, reached a closed-cycle net output of 18 kW on a government barge off Keahole Point, Big Island of Hawaii in 1979. A few years later, a Japanese group succeeded with a 120 kW gross system, also of closed-cycle design, on Nauru, but was, like Claude, wiped out by a hurricane. OTEC-1 tested a one MW size heat exchanger and large coldwater pipe in Hawaiian waters in the 80’s, and a 260 kW gross open-cycle facility was built by the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR) at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) in the 90’s. The latter two projects were funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

At least seven groups are currently active in the field:

o Home to the major OTEC projects and sprouting marine nutraceuticals, coldwater agriculture crops, seafood, pearls, and a range of other products, NELHA was the first to demonstrate and commercialize the multi-product potential of this concept. Of all the ironies, though, deep ocean water passed through a reverse osmosis membrane to produce freshwater, is now the primary product of this facility. The revenues just from this item exceeds any one product (sugar, pineapple, orchids) exported from Hawaii. Japan now has more than ten such facilities, but mostly for special shrimp, vegetable and low-value commodities. Korea and other countries of the Orient are planning for similar activities.

o I seem to regularly cross paths with the Saga University team, led by Haruo Uyehara. They reportedly have eleven OTEC projects under development, including the India 1 MW effort which has not yet produced net positive electricity, and as of 2007, none of theirs has yet reached this plateau.

o Hans Krock, president of Ocean Engineering and Energy Systems, a colleague of mine from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii, also has several efforts in various stages of planning, including a 1.2 MW system at NELHA and a 13 MW facility for the U.S. Navy on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. He, too, though, has yet to attain net positive.

o John Craven, now associated with Common Heritage Corporation in Hawaii, was reported to have signed a deal with Saipan for a multi-purpose deep ocean water center.130 He previously told me that Haiti was also very interested in a similar adventure.

o Bob Nicholson of Sea Solar Power has been to Hawaii several times to discuss the prospects of a floating 100 MW OTEC power plant to supply electricity and 32 million gallons/day of freshwater to Honolulu. The general consensus in Hawaii is that something on the order of a 10 MW first module might make more sense because of scale-up uncertainties. Perhaps this is why he is spending more time with the Caribbean Utilities Company, where a memorandum of agreement was signed several years ago. At one time they had hoped to have a plant operational off Grand Cayman Islands by 2008, but political problems delayed the effort.245 Sad to say, but SSP, too, has failed to produce electricity at sea.

o Luis Vega, the OTEC engineer for the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research, has managed to keep the technology alive since I first hired him twenty years ago. He did engineer the successful NELHA projects. I wish him well.

o A Lockheed Martin team visited Hawaii in 2007 to discuss their entry into the competition. The nearer term potential of OTEC hinges on their involvement and success. Their original team did attain net positive.

Pardon me for my jaded attitude, but when I was on the drafting team for the OTEC bill that was signed into law more than a quarter century ago projecting 10,000 MW by 1999, I, too, was optimistic. Today, this prediction is still short, by exactly 10,000 MW. My attitude of caution is specifically for those projects that hope to profit only by producing electricity with OTEC.

Widespread implementation of OTEC has not occurred because of very high capital costs. However, increasing fossil fuel prices and/or restrictions on the possible future use of fossil fuels, combined with co-products, including value added environmental benefits, make OTEC a serious contender for future commercialization.237 Project Blue Revolution describes this scenario in a later section.

OTEC Technology Development

OTEC systems of several hundred kW have been tested, but nothing in the MW range has succeeded. India appears to be close to attaining this goal and NELHA is positioned to install a 1MW OTEC power plant. For larger sizes, the three critical OTEC components needing breakthroughs are the closed and hybrid cycle heat exchanger, open cycle turbine and coldwater pipe. These are the major pieces of system equipment costing the most dollars.


OTEC for Environmental Remediation

The widespread use of OTEC would reduce fossil fuel combustion. In addition, should a means be developed to promote marine biomass growth using the deep ocean nutrients, it is possible that carbon dioxide can be absorbed from the atmosphere to further reduce global climate warming.237 But this might need to involve the addition of an iron compound, a trace metal required by microorganisms to make enzymes, and nitrogen. Companies have actually been formed to take advantage of carbon sequestration using this technique.179

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the nutrient-rich upwelled fluids could be utilized to cultivate a marine microorganism that can take the carbon dioxide from both the effluent and the atmosphere, form a solid carbon compound, and drop it to the bottom of the ocean, to stay there for eons, like millions of years? Well, actually, coccolithophores are single-celled algae, about one-hundredth of a mm in diameter, a hundred million cells per liter, which does exactly that, converting carbon dioxide into carbonate (-CO3). The White Cliffs of Dover, for example, are mostly coccolithophores. Nothing is perfect, of course, as this algae also produce dimethylsulfide, a contributor to global warming, and only a small fraction of its shell ends up as rock at the sea bottom. All in all, though, there is something to this process that intrigues me.

The combination of a floating coal power plant with an OTEC facility to enable deep ocean sequestration of CO2 has been proposed.203 OTEC uses cold deep sea water as a thermal sink, while ocean sequestration treats it as a repository for anthropogenic (man-made) CO2. These technologies have the potential for synergy, including the sharing of platforms and equipment, addition of CO2 to the warm water OTEC intakes to prevent biofouling of pipelines and heat exchangers, exploiting the negatively buoyant CO2 enriched sea water to drive part of the upward water transport for OTEC, reduction of pumping costs for sequestration, and carbon tax credits.

As an early next step, the International Ocean Alliance Floating Platform Summit suggested a demonstration on a decommissioned oil platform, combining a 10-100 MW fossil fuel power plant, small OTEC system and various associated co-products for testing in Hawaiian waters. In the long term, as OTEC grazing plant ships will be located in the warmest portion of the oceans, where hurricanes are formed, it might be possible to eliminate or reduce the intensity of these ocean storms.294 We will re-visit this subject in a later section on the Blue Revolution and the environment.

OTEC Economics

The electricity from next generation one MW OTEC facilities will cost more than $0.25/kWh. There have been island communities long in this price range, with some approaching an unsubsidized $1/kWh. With freshwater, aquaculture, air-conditioning and other co-products, a major resort or military base could justify the installation an OTEC power plant, and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean appears to be a potential customer for the U.S. Department of Defense.

A 1 MW OTEC facility can produce up to 3500 cubic meters per day of potable water. The value added operational and marketing benefits of natural energy and self-sustainability are exploitable advantages. While the U.S. Department of Defense has carried out several studies to consider this alternative, there are hopes that an international funding organization, such as the World Bank or Asian Development Bank, will have the will to break from tradition to symbolically demonstrate the value of this sustainable option.

With water credit, it has been reported by PICHTR that a land-based 1 MW plant could be built to produce electricity at $0.25/kWh and 5 MW for about $0.10/kWh.321 A 50 MW floating closed cycle hybrid OTEC facility, with water sold at $3/1000 gallon, could produce electricity for $.06/kWh (1990 dollars).

Can 100 MW and larger OTEC plantships someday produce hydrogen and other clean energy products?237 Studies are available detailing the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis on 50-400 MW OTEC platforms at costs low enough to manufacture on board and delivered to land-based users of ammonia and fertilizers to compete with conventional options. A 64 MW system could produce 8270 tons (one million GJ net heating value) of hydrogen per year.

A floating plantship can process 107 tons of coal per day (1.24kg/sec) to produce 47,400 tons of methanol annually, and because of the hydrogen from OTEC electrolysis, provide a 1:1.3 ratio of coal to methanol, whereas, typical plants today have a 1:0.6 ratio. There would also be the carbon sequestration benefit as mentioned earlier. Another variation, a renewable one, would use marine biomass as the feedstock to replace coal, for a large portion of the overall coal cost is just the delivery.

Short of a major crisis, then, OTEC electricity, alone, will not be commercially competitive for many years to come. With water, carbon, and/or co-product credits, the promise increases for niche island applications today. In the mid term, as oil becomes even more expensive, OTEC hydrogen and other fuels and chemicals can become attractive substitutes to carbon fuels. In the very long term, the concept of artificial upwelling for broad scale marine development with concomitant environmental benefits looms large as a productive future.

The Green Revolution

Before we discuss the Blue Revolution, let us look at another revolution, one which occurred on land. The credit for its initiation might well be given to Vice President, Henry A. Wallace, who, with Raymond Fosdick, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, recognized that controlling diseases in developing areas only prolonged slow starvation. This is the same dilemma faced by poverty crusaders, who, with success, are then faced with the next issue: having saved a few young lives, how do you now improve their quality of life to make living worthwhile.

In 1944, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations established an agricultural experiment station in Mexico…..

Wheat is an incredible life form. Its 21 chromosomes contain 16 billion base pairs, supposedly 40 times more than rice and five times that of humans.80 About 11,000 years ago, in what is now Turkey, wheat was first planted, and has gone through several mutations. This grain reached Europe in 3000 B.C. and China around 2000 B.C., where rice was already being cultivated. Rice itself has been reported in Science Daily to have the smallest of its 12 chromosomes having 22 million base pairs, so the genetics of grain appear to still be evolving.90 Today, there are a bit more than 200 million hectares (ha, 500 million acres) of wheat in production and 150 million ha in rice.

Mind you, anything good has its critics, too. Vandana Shiva282wrote that the Green Revolution was a failure, as genetic diversity was reduced, crops became more vulnerable to pests, soil fertility dropped, small farmers gave way to large corporations, and the subsequent family impoverishment led to increased conflicts……..

There will be controversy. Monsanto and Conagra could well become the next primary industrial defendants in the courts. But, more and more, GM foods will provide natural vaccines against infectious diseases, higher nutrient value and lower costs (because crop maturity can be accelerated, for time means money). Much of this transition—because they don’t have to be eaten—will occur in GM cotton, flowers and fibrous plants to make plastics and transportation fuel. Irrigation water is a looming crisis.

Finally, I have been advising a group with a patent to grow land crops in the ocean. Can you imagine if someone had the patent to grow land plants on land? So someday you might actually see “amber waves of super-grain” on the ocean.

The Blue Revolution 237

The next frontier is most definitely the open ocean. Largely not owned by any nation—although the United Nations might someday find a way to claim it—nutrient-rich fluids at 4 degrees Celsius are available 1000 meters below the 20 degree latitude band surface around the equator. Just in this natural solar collector region, if only ONE part in TEN THOUSAND of the insolation (Incoming SOLAr radiaTION) can be converted to useful energy, the needs of society would be satisfied.

This warm portion of the ocean is currently characterized as a wet desert, for the net primary productivity is low, at approximately one tenth that of tropical rain forests. Why so low? Near the equator, wind and current forces are not sufficiently large to cause natural upwelling. Thus, the chain of marine growth is weak. Hawaii, at just above 20 degrees north, is actually a poor location for fish production. Our whales eat in Alaskan waters and come to Hawaii just to breed. Yet, because there is almost ten times more of this ocean space (than rain forests), the total productivities of the jungles and the seas are similar. However, if artificial upwelling can be utilized to support marine growth only at typical land growth efficiencies, we can have ten times the annual production from this portion of the ocean around the equator. An earlier discussion about marine biomass revealed that ocean crops can be ten times more productive than land counterparts. Thus, there is a factor of 100 greater potential possible in these currently infertile waters.318 Civilization would thus have a new territory capable of producing enormous amounts of marine growth, with an intriguing greenhouse carbon sink opportunity. Let the Great Open Ocean Rush begin!

On land, the food chain is simple, as for example, cows eat grass/corn and provide meat and milk. In the ocean, it all begins with phytoplankton, microscopic plants, which start the food chain. They best grow where there are nutrients. When sea life at the surface dies, it drops to the lower depths and decomposes into compounds of nitrogen, phosphorous and so on, that formed them. If you go down to a depth of 1000 meters (3281 feet), the water temperature is around 4 °C (39°F) and nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen are 200 times higher for the former and 20 times for the latter, compared to the concentration at the surface. These ratios will vary, but, if anything, are higher at greater depths, and the analysis is a lot more complicated than I’m making it sound. But under the right conditions, these deeper, more nutrient-rich waters, are naturally brought the surface by a combination of temperature, currents and winds. These conditions seem to be ideal in the cooler and more northerly portions of the oceans. This is why fishing fleets are most successful where the temperatures are cold. Not because fish grows more efficiently at colder temperatures, but because of the availability of sustenance. Sufficient nutrients can only be found in one-tenth of one percent of the ocean where natural upwelling occurs.

Phytoplankton and zooplankton bloom, krill (very small shrimp—tens of thousands per cubic meter when small, but can grow to 6 centimeters at maturity, and is said to be the most successful animal species on the planet, with just one of them, Euphasia superba, equal in weight to all the seafood annually caught) consume them, to be eaten by smaller fish varieties, which in turn are devoured by larger sea creatures. Detritus (decaying life) are then used by crustaceans, then bacteria, to re-start of cycle of growth. At each trophic (food stage) level, 90% of the energy/nutrients are “lost.” This means that, given limited nutrients, you need 100 pounds of sardines to produce 10 pounds of tuna to support 1 pound of marlin. To maximize seafood production, then, if fish is the marketable product, find a species that eats at the lowest possible trophic level. Find one that thrives on algae.

The challenge is whether we can upwell these nutrient-rich fluids and start the growth cycle where the sun shines. David Karl, Roger Lucas and their team from the University of Hawaii and other institutions have found thin layers of marine life forms, call them plankton soup, at the interface of flowing currents. They tend to come and go and are regularly seen only a few degrees north of Hawaii.42 Can we start this growth using deep ocean water and then control the system such that the complete seafood support cycle can be maintained?

All fisheries are now in some state of decline, some more serious than others, and a few in very critical condition. The World population will continue to grow for some time, and nutritional patterns show a shift away from red meat to seafood. At one time fish was cheaper than meat, chicken and pork. In most markets today, seafood is more expensive. Thus, the change has already occurred. But the seas only produce about 100 million metric tons of food/year, while terrestrial food production is five billion metric tons. Thus, with more than 70% of surface, the oceans only produce 2% of the food we consume.

More than 40% of all fish caught comes from that 0.1% portion of the ocean where natural upwelling exists. But, it is said that the sea already provides more edible protein than land. What if we are able to artificially upwell at profit? This thought led to John Bardach and I co-chairing, with Michael Champ and Jay Weidler a National Science Foundation workshop in September of 1991 on “Engineering Research Needs for Off-Shore Mariculture Systems.” Now, one doesn’t just host such a gathering, attaching the cachet of NSF to it. You need to pull together a team to write a proposal and submit it to a specific scientific government agency interested in that topic. While this would be of the unsolicited variety, there is a peer review, and if the results are compelling, funds are provided. Clearly, if you have a positive relationship with the NSF (or any) program manager, the odds improve for a positive response. Norman Caplan of NSF, and two of his part-time associates, Joseph Vadus and Michael Champ, were particularly instrumental in helping secure the grant. But of course, they, too, felt that this ocean technology system was long overdue and worthy of support. Produced was a 558 page bible on open ocean mariculture, edited by Gregg Hirata. These individuals are all key leaders of the Blue Revolution.

Figure 1: Artificially Upwelled System

Picture, then, a grazing plantship, powered by OTEC, supporting a marine biomass plantation co-existing with a next generation fishery. The bottom of the pipe is at a depth of 1000 meters. The engineering of the cold water cell still needs to be perfected and the life cycle of this ultimate ocean ranch remains a scientific challenge. The floating structure itself can in time be enlarged into an industrial park or city. Figure 1 depicts the marine environment and systems configuration to capture this potential:

Figure 2 shows the mechanism by which electricity, air conditioning, aquaculture, pharmaceuticals, freshwater, strategic minerals, biofuels and hydrogen can be produced by incorporating various marine fields. In addition to being a manufacturing platform, this grazing ship would serve as a commercial incubator for next generation industries, environmental observatory and scientific laboratory. An armada of these floating structures can in time be networked into an industrial park, then a city. A future stage could well be status as a nation. Mauritius is a member of the United Nations with a population of about a million people, and there is interest on their part to eventually float these platforms to create new nations.

Figure 2: Project Blue Revolution Mission


Very Large Floating Structures
Marine Science
PRODUCTS: Electricity
Air Conditioning
Aquaculture and Marine Ag Products
Marine Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals
Strategic Minerals
Methanol and Hydrogen Fuel
CAPABILITIES: Commercial Incubator Facilities
Marine Environmental Observatory
Science/Technology Laboratories
A very complete treatment of the history and applications related to deep ocean water is a book by my namesake and friend, Professor Masayuki Mac Takahashi, formerly of Tokyo University and now with Kochi University, entitled DOW: Deep Ocean Water as Our Next Natural Resource. He covers all the details, with photos and figures, and even mentions the Blue Revolution.237

Before You Jump into the Ocean, Start on Land

During the 1973 energy crisis, Dean of Engineering John Shupe, Associate Dean Paul Yuen and Dean of Marine Programs John Craven at the University of Hawaii met to talk about the future. Shupe/Yuen suggested the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute to manage all renewable energy projects and John Craven the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELH) to advance deep ocean water (DOW) and solar applications. They went to the Hawaii State Legislature and both organizations were created and established in 1974. Three hundred and twenty two acres were set aside at Keahole Point on the West Side of the Big Island to build the first DOW laboratory. In 1984 the Legislature added the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park on an adjoining 547 acres. I became secretary of the NELH board around this time and came to a personal conclusion that only high value products would survive. Was I wrong, as it turned out that freshwater is now the best selling commodity. In 1990 NELH and HOST were combined into the 870 acre Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

There are several deep ocean and surface pipes at the site, with the largest, a 55 inch (140 centimeters) diameter pipe installed in 2005 going down to a depth of 3000 feet, about 1000 meters. The lab is capable of supplying 39,800 gallons/minute (150 cubic meters/minute) of DOW and 58,100 gallon/minute (220 cubic meters/minute) of surface seawater. This flow is more than adequate to support a 1 MW OTEC power plant, which for about a decade now has been in the final stages of discussion for construction.

The State of Hawaii has invested $70 million into the NELHA infrastructure, the Center for Excellence in Ocean Research and Science (CEROS), a Department of Defense funding arm, has also provided $70 million of grants related to ocean applications, and the Department of Energy, with the DOD, has spent $70 million to support renewable energy research at the site. Add to this total a like sum from the private sector, and you have the ideal partnership of government and industry.

There are now 33 companies on the NELHA property employing more than 350 people. These companies also produce abalone; nutraceuticals, brood-stock shrimp, reef dwelling organisms, sea horses and yellow tang for aquaria; and sea vegetables and assorted fish (yellowtail, hirami, tilapia, milkfish, etc.). There are also education, research and development activities.

There are four companies only selling drinking water. ……..

What is to come? Health spa, beer/sake brewery, caviar sturgeon cultured pearls and who knows what.

Clearly, the next step will be to expand operations unto the open sea. This is where the Blue Revolution enters the picture.

History of the Blue Revolution

Ten thousand years ago Man hunted and gathered. Then, the agricultural revolution began around the Nile River and Fertile Crescent (Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia—Iraq today). But this was mostly subsistence farming. Metal tools and fertilizer began to be phased in around fifteen hundred years ago, when feudal ag began. Scientific agriculture finally was initiated about five hundred years ago. Ocean fishing, today, largely remains in the hunting and gathering stage. Yes, aquaculture is finally gaining success, but the Blue Revolution is, then, almost ten thousand years overdue. In the process, the Blue Revolution will be able to leapfrog over traditional farming because the ultimate ocean ranch, will be energy self-sufficient and will feed itself, unlike the farms of today, which require fertilizer and diesel, products from petroleum.

Early Political History of the Blue Revolution

It all started in the U.S. Congress

Over time, the concept of the blue revolution has taken on a wide range of guises. From a campaign to expand Democrat influence in politics to an Australian TV series about the ocean to an article in Scientific American promoting intelligent utilization of the ocean,269 the term has, in a sense, been overused. Yet, the Blue Revolution does capture the spirit of the intent, and I place the beginnings of my conception with the first OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion) legislation in 1979.

Hawaii had just shown for the first time in July, through the Mini-OTEC barge under the leadership of Lockheed, that it was possible to produce net positive electricity from the temperature differential of the ocean. I had just started work in the U.S. Senate for what would subsequently be a three year period, and Senator Spark Matsunaga asked me to develop a bill to authorize funds for OTEC. Rich Woldin, also newly hired, and a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wrote the first draft and I provided comments……..

Establishment of PICHTR

A second important event was the establishment of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR) in 1982 when I returned to the University of Hawaii from Congress, at which time Paul Yuen, who had recently become dean of engineering, and I thought it would be useful if we could form our own funding agency. Yes, somehow obtain resources and fund only what we wanted.

We talked to University of Hawaii President Fujio Matsuda, who endorsed the concept. I asked Senator Matsunaga, on one of his regular visits to Hawaii, to give a speech to an engineering society and wrote the first draft, with Paul’s help, where Matsunaga recommended the formation of a U.S.-Japan technology transfer center in Hawaii to develop sustainable resources for the developing Pacific Basin entities……..

PICHTR and Japan

Now that we had the beginnings of an international research organization, I went to Tokyo to float the concept of working together with the Japanese on OTEC. Why OTEC? Because Senator Matsunaga wrote the bill and Hawaii was the only place that had proved the concept. This would insure that we would be unchallenged as the leader. I gave talks at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT) and Tokyo University. At TIT, I met Professor Yasuo Mori, a world class heat transfer expert, who fell in love with the technology. He later, after he retired, came to Hawaii to work for PICHTR.

After my TIT talk, I had one hour to get to the Tokyo campus. If I went by subway, I would have easily made it. However, the TIT brain trust huddled, and decided that their university car and chauffeur had to take me to the University of Tokyo. I was at least half an hour late. There was a lesson or message here, although I’m still not sure what it was.

Before my second trip to Japan, I asked Senator Matsunaga to write a letter to American Ambassador to Japan, Mike Mansfield (who had served in the Senate with Matsunaga), that I would like to discuss PICHTR with the him. I thus made my return and met with Mansfield, accompanied by Professor Mori. Learning that we were next going to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Mansfield arranged for his limousine to transport the two of us to MOFA. Furthermore, he asked his secretary to please call the person we were to meet to have him greet us at the gate. Professor Mori was impressed, and I was kind of embarrassed about all this goodwill. But the Ambassador’s orchestration turned out to be crucial.

A small delegation was waiting for us when we drove up to the Kasumigaseki headquarters………

On the limousine ride back to the American Embassy, I was distressed, but Professor Mori, in quizzical astonishment, said, “this is the best meeting I have ever had with a government official.” “What,” I said. “What do you mean?” Normally, unless they are long-time friends, government people are courteous and non-committal. According to Mori, “Nanao was being frank and helpful.”

So, a few months later I made my third trip to Tokyo to meet with Deputy Director Nishimiya. I was staying at the Akasaka Prince Hotel, so I suggested lunch at the French restaurant there. Business lunches of this nature in Japan with government officials are very rare. Office sessions are the norm, and with familiarity, perhaps dinner. But in my ignorance, I asked, and he accepted…….

PICHTR and President Ronald Reagan

Around this time, on April 14, 1986, after the completion of 2 days of discussions in D.C., President Ronald Reagan reported, in his meeting with Prime Minister Nakasone, that they “agreed to intensify efforts to expand trade through better market access” and aim for realizing the full potential of this unique relationship through “close cooperation.” A few days later I got a call from Cherry Matano, Senator Matsunaga’s Administrative Assistant in D.C.: “Pat, the Senator voted with President Reagan on the Free Trade bill and was asked to accompany him to Japan on Air Force One for the Tokyo Economic Summit. Can you recommend a strategy?” This was incredible. A Democratic Senator voting with a Republican President on a bill of international importance? No, no, no, Matsunaga was himself a free trade person. The Nanao solution falling into my lap, that was a miracle! So, I recommended that, as the Senator was the author of the OTEC bill, and gave the speech that initiated thinking about a Japan-U.S. technology transfer center headquartered in Hawaii, for him to ask the President to request of Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone the establishment of an international cooperative program to start an OTEC program with the Japanese. Of course, I had been keeping that office informed of all the planning Paul and I were doing……

The “Ron and Yasu” goodwill relationship established the foundation for a fruitful Tokyo Economic Summit of May 2-7, 1986, also involving Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom, President Francois Mitterrand of France, Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany, President Bettino Craxi of Italy, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and President Jacques Delors of the European Commission. At the State Guesthouse in Tokyo, the very first item of business was a proposal by President Reagan for Japan and the USA to work together on technology transfer in the Pacific. Nakasone warmly agreed…….

Later in the 1986 we succeeded in obtaining the initial $1 million/year from Japan, and a like sum, a lot more, really, from the U.S. Federal government. Most of the funds filtered through my office because the lion’s share went to designing, building and operating an ocean thermal energy conversion facility, giving me some leverage for creativity. A sum of $50 million sticks in my mind as the rough budget during my few years with PICHTR.

Politics of OTEC

When I first was exposed to OTEC in the mid 1970s, I was a skeptic. I even submitted an environmental impact statement questioning the potential effect on the coastal region. Having experienced the birth of the legislation, though, and realizing that this technology could well be the key to the success of PICHTR and a tonic for the planet, I became not only a supporter, but self proclaimed savior……

In 1988 I engineered the publication of a paper entitled, “Converting OTEC for Commercial Use in the Pacific,” with Leonard Rogers as the lead author and Fujio Matsuda, Luis Vega and I as co-authors.190 It was published in Sea Technology, and sealed the deal for the PICHTR group, which proceeded to gain $22.2 million from the USDOE, $4.5 million from the State of Hawaii and $8.2 million of others (including Japan, of course). The 210 kW (gross, 40 kW net) open cycle system saw groundbreaking in 1991 at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and full operation, with freshwater, in 1994. The system actually produced 103 kW of maximum net power.

At around this time, about a decade after Paul Yuen and I first thought up the concept of an international technology transfer organization, I parted with PICHTR. The University of Hawaii had continued to pay my salary while I directed the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and doubled up by helping PICHTR on a pro bono (I did it for free) basis. There were new fields to conquer, as I was named to the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Hydrogen Technical Panel and began championing the Blue Revolution and Green Enertopia. Plus, I left PICHTR with a new $20 million biomass to methanol project.

Academic History of the Blue Revolution

Let us now go back in time to the middle 80’s when the National Science Foundation announced a competition for Engineering Research Centers (ERC) in emerging technology areas. Most federal grants run for one year, and anything, in those days, beyond $100,000, was unusual. Plus, the old boy’s network made lesser schools, like the University of Hawaii, outsiders in the contest. The ERC program went up to $5 million per year for ten years. There also seemed to be a sense that the big boys would not monopolize the show. Typically, though, 150 universities send in letters of interest, which led to full two-inch thick proposals, from which ten might be selected for site visits, resulting in five or so awards. In the twenty years of the program, forty or so such centers have been created.

Paul and I again put our heads together. I wrote that first proposal to NSF for a Center for Ocean Resource Technology in Hawaii…….. [THREE PROPOSALS LATER]

Well, of the, again, 150 college campuses showing initial interest, we, for the first time, made the finals, being one of ten to gain a site visit….

But, this was still a learning process. Going back to NSF and meeting with their program officials, we found a way to focus, and homed in on marine biotechnology. Book 2 continues our quest, laying the groundwork for the National Science Foundation Marine Bioproducts Engineering Center, which we won. This whole process, of course, established the foundation for the Blue Revolution.

Planning for the Blue Revolution

To recap, then, in 1979, the legislation I helped draft on ocean thermal energy conversion convinced me that this was a very special technology. Not necessarily for electricity, as the small temperature differential between the surface and deep waters meant that the realistic efficiency could only be around 3%, one-tenth that of conventional power plants. However, between the 20 degree North and South Latitude bands around the equator is this enormous hot/cold water resource. The Sun heats the surface and the thermohaline circulation brings cold fluids from the Arctic and Antarctic. Just pull up this fluid from 1000 meter depths and you can pass it through what would amount to a perpetual motion machine, the effluent which can also provide free fertilizer to stimulate new growth. Marine biomass plantations and next generation fisheries should thrive. Green chemicals / materials and biofuels can be manufactured from the biomass and hydrogen can also be produced. The plant ships could well become industrial parks, then, floating cities. Perhaps you might also cool the surface to prevent the formation of hurricanes. Plus, who knows, if you can be clever about the chemical balance, possibly also suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reduce climate warming. This is the BLUE REVOLUTION.

All the above, and much more, set the stage. Six other events were particularly significant. First, in 1988 ……

Second, the Berlin Wall…..

Third, the paper trail of the Blue Revolution originally began in April of 1991 with a presentation Hawaii State Senator Richard Matsuura and I made to the First International Workshop on Very Large Floating Structures……

Fourth, Phyliss Min, Mark Foreman and Margaret Cummisky, staff members of U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye…..

Fifth, and frivolously, two longtime-colleagues and co-authors of many things ocean, Joseph Vadus, Chief Ocean Technologist of NOAA, Takeo Kondo, now chairman of the Ocean Engineering and Architecture Department at Nihon University (Japan), and I were taken out to a fugu restaurant in Kita-Kyushu by an industrial representative….

More seriously, sixth, in 1992, I was the principal investigator for a study commissioned by the National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), called “U.S. Ocean Resources 2000,” to serve as a blueprint for ocean commercialization.237 Paul Yuen and John Carey of NOAA were the co-chairmen. At a complementary gathering that year, Joseph Vadus and I linked a workshop to the Kailua-Kona Pacific Congress on Marine Science and Technology, where the participants projected that a 100,000 square foot ocean resource incubator platform could be built and operated in the year 2000 for $500 million. It was argued that in view of the $2.4 billion cost of each B-2 bomber, this was an opportunity that could not be wasted. However, regarding item 2 above, no peace dividend appeared after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the opportunity, indeed, passed by.237 It was then that I realized the Blue Revolution was not going to be spearheaded by the United States, for, first, we just did not have the will to take charge, and second, American ocean industry was transfixed on defense products. I thus undertook a personal mission to seek assistance from other countries.

Blue Revolution with Europe

In the mid 1990’s I was invited (meaning they paid my way) several times to Europe, which seemed more inclined to pursue the Blue Revolution. Germany, and in particular, one of their shipyards, expressed serious interest. A planning gathering in Lisbon, Portugal, I thought, had especial significance, for this was the decision-making session for the 1998 Lisbon World Expo, focusing on the ocean. The described plans, however, did not show any evidence of a progressive ocean event. The previous ocean expo was held in Okinawa, Japan in 1975, where Aquapolis, large floating platform, was unveiled, designed by Japan ocean architect, Kiyonori Kikutake, a wonderful and creative man who I later met.

It occurred to me then that, wouldn’t it be a magnificent gesture for Japan to refurbish and tow Aquapolis to Lisbon and have it again serve as the centerpiece, as a gesture of East-West cooperation and a connection of the past to the future? The fact that it had withstood numerous typhoons and still was serviceable after twenty years was remarkable…..

But my forays into the Old Continent proved futile and nothing happened. I like to think, however, that some of the seeds did sprout and it will only be a matter of time when a new Columbus will discover the open ocean for colonization.

Blue Revolution in the Orient

Japan has done more for the Blue Revolution than any country. While the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center, now under their….

My ocean presentations in the Orient, especially Japan and Korea, focused on the simple fact that they were #1 and #2 in shipbuilding, but with no natural resources. As their shipyards were looking for work, wouldn’t it make sense to build grazing platforms, powered by OTEC, to produce hydrogen or methanol from marine biomass or harvest marine hydrates, while creating next generation fisheries and new habitats for their growing population? While the U.S. only doubled our jurisdiction by proclamation of our Exclusive Economic Zone (the 200 nautical mile region around our coastlines) in 1983, Japan increased their owned space by a factor of 10…..

South Korea, with an EEZ four times its land space, was another of my subjects. Japan had so many other options for economic development that they can be excused for their clueless waffling in the ocean. Korea is equally desperate for natural resources, has immense capability in building floating platforms, has a way of picking targets of opportunity and was an ideal candidate for ocean development. Over the years I must have traveled 25 times to Korea, toured their high tech facilities, struck up an alliance with several universities and became familiar with their governmental system…….

Inha University is another story worthy of telling. Amazingly, on July 4, 2007, if you had typed “Inha University” and “Sigman Rhee” into Google, you would have gotten zilch. Same for Ask. Sigman Rhee received degrees from George Washington University, Harvard and Princeton, went back to Korea, got into political trouble, spent an exile period in Hawaii, and returned to become the first president of South Korea. He was said to be brutal and authoritarian, but in 1954, President Rhee formed Inha University, with some funds contributed from Hawaii. Inha is a combined contraction of Incheon (where the campus and new international airport is now located) and Hawaii.

Seoung-Yong Hong, in the mid-nineties (time, not age), then, a middle ranking administrator in the South Korean government, led a small group to the U.S. to explore the potential of their country forming a Ministry of the Ocean. One of their stops was in Honolulu…..

Well, there is also China, which showed the earliest presence in international waters when Zheng He, a eunuch in the Imperial Court, supposedly six feet seven inches tall (about two meters), in the early to mid 1400s, before Columbus, supposedly circumnavigated the world and sailed to the Americas and the Persian Gulf with as many as 30,000 men and 300 ships. Thus, He might have discovered the New World. Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria, was all of 75 feet long, with 3 masts. Zheng’s commanding ship was 400 feet (120 meters) long, with nine masts.338 Perhaps someday I’ll make a China presence.

Blue Revolution in Hawaii

The notion of a blue revolution can be traced back to John Craven and his floating city concept…..

At least 25 major ocean conferences, workshops and significant gatherings have occurred in Hawaii beginning in the eighties and into this new millennium. Yes, people like to visit Hawaii, but if there is to be international cooperation to do anything monumental in the open ocean, you might as well be headquartered in the middle of the Pacific. Much of this was reported in the section on the History of the Blue Revolution, so let us skip to December of 1998 when Hawaii hosted the International Ocean Alliance Summit.204 Through an appropriation of $50,000 from the Hawaii State Legislature, 100 delegates from throughout the world met to craft a plan to build a floating platform powered by OTEC. I had already decided to soon retire, so I prevailed on Stephen Masutani, an individual a decade earlier who I hired to work for PICHTR on OTEC, and now a researcher with HNEI, to lead the future of the Blue Revolution by chairing the gathering……..

A university is not the ideal place to develop a major international effort, for there is no way that the academic budget process could justify spending millions on an economic development need. Universities are of course, part of the team, as extolled by administrators and the governor, but mostly by educating students and, now and then, producing a faculty member who had some research success transferable to the marketplace. At one time patents were discouraged in academia, but over the past decade or so, there has been virtually a 180 degree (meaning bad to good) shift in attitude. That is one plus, but the reality is that universities are impotent on comprehensive international partnerships with an annual expenditure of $5 million or more focused on a societal need. This is why the Pacific International Center for High Technology was created.

It so turned out that the concept had appealed to the PICHTR administration some years prior, for in April of 1997, an informal meeting was called to discuss interest in this concept during the “Open Ocean Aquaculture” conference held on Maui. In August of 1997, PICHTR then convened a workshop of key researchers, mostly from Hawaii and Japan in a planning meeting on “Next Generation Fisheries,” spearheaded by James Szyper of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The group envisioned a coordinated international, multidisciplinary task force enhancing biological productivity through artificial upwelling of nutrient-rich subsurface seawater into the photic zone to produce seafood, energy and other products by the integrated management of a grazing, floating platform powered by OTEC.301 To gauge international interest, in December of 1998, we then hosted “The International Ocean Alliance Floating Platform Summit,” funded by the Hawaii State Legislature, as reported earlier.

In August of 1999, the chairman of the PICHTR board, Fujio Matsuda, served as primary author of a pioneering paper on “The Ultimate Ocean Ranch,” published in Sea Technology, which I also co-authored with James Szyper and Joseph Vadus of NSF/NOAA.88 Later that year the team, adding Toshitsugu Sakou of Tokai University and Masayuki Mac Takahashi of Tokyo University, presented a report to the United States – Japan Natural Resources Marine Facilities Panel entitled, “U.S.-Japan Advances in the Development of Open-Ocean Ranching.” ……

A potentially significant gathering I chaired occurred in October 7, 2004, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo, was the setting for a PICHTR hosted Next Generation Fisheries Summit, also attended by Norway. One of the invaluable organizers for this meeting was Mitsuro Donowaki, who in the 80’s had served as the Japanese Counsel General in Honolulu, later on became Japan’s ambassador to Nigeria and Mexico, and who now serves on the PICHTR Board. His Gaimusho (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) colleague, Koichiro Matsuura in the 2000’s became director-general of UNESCO, the host for my Blue Revolution talk in Paris.

There was universal agreement that the three countries should work together and a follow-up meeting was planned for Norway. Stephen Masutani of the U.S., Lars Golmen of Norway and Kazuyuki Ouchi of Japan were tasked to write a paper on this session and present a report to an upcoming ocean conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Golmen and Masutani then in November of 2005 co-chaired NGF Summit #2 in Bergen. Chile was added to the partnership. The conferees agreed to The Bergen Declaration, in effect, pledging to work together on NGF and agreeing to next meet in Hawaii in 2008.

Finally, in 2007, three separate 100 MW OTEC projects were floated for Honolulu……

Joining the fray was Lockheed Martin, which in 1979, under the leadership of James Wenzel, built and tested Mini-OTEC, the very first OTEC power plant to produce net-positive electricity. The Lockheed team, now commanded by Ted Johnson out of D.C., has also proposed a 100 MW system. The significance of their entry is that a major aerospace firm has designs to become a player in the development of this technology. It is easy to predict that the future of OTEC will depend on Lockheed Martin.

Thus, while nothing much has happened regarding the total Blue Revolution, elements of the concept are beginning to gain lives of their own. It is now only a matter of time when these parts agglomerate into a system, for the cost-effectiveness of each can be enhanced by association with the whole.

Environmental Benefits of the Blue Revolution

The problem with energy and resource development is that most forms damage the environment in some way….

However, OTEC and the Blue Revolution might actually offer environmental enhancement. I do worry about Greenpeace, and the delay they can cause if they are convinced this technology is evil, but part of the effort will be devoted to resurrecting threatened species and augmenting depleted stocks. I’ve heard from environmentalists who worry about affecting the thermohaline circulation, cloudying up of the ocean with algae and dangerous red tides. I remain convinced, though, that the overall affect on Planet Earth and society will be very positive. Can global warming be remediated by treating the deep ocean water to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? Maybe. Certainly, the production of marine biomass to be converted into a biofuel will reduce consumption of fossil fuels. Will a large number of grazing plantships someday plying the waters where hurricanes form reduce the severity, and, perhaps, eliminate, the formation of hurricanes?

Can the Blue Revolution Prevent the Formation of Hurricanes?

First of all, I should mention that hurricanes/typhoons are actually desired in certain localities, and may well be necessary in the natural ecology of life…..

But, global warming is heating the ocean, and any kind of common sense will tell you that more frequent and larger hurricanes will be produced…..

Anticipating worst case scenarios, on May 24, 1993, Stanley Dunn, who was at that time chairman of the Ocean Engineering Department at Florida Atlantic University, and I co-chaired an exploratory discussion at the Department of Commerce in D.C. on the potential of forming a team to prepare a feasibility plan for the design, construction and operation of a fleet of OTEC-powered plant ships as a major defense conversion or National Institute of Science and Technology Advanced Technology Program initiative to retard the formation of hurricanes. There were representatives from industry and government. The group was ambitious. We drew up a plan for 500 floating plant ships over the next 20 years to manufacture marine products, of course, but also to prevent the formation of hurricanes. In 1992 hurricanes had caused more than $20 billion of damage in the U.S. We surmised that global warming would only mean stronger hurricane……

The Iron Lung Syndrome

The other edge of the environmental sword is global climate warming. Can the Blue Revolution remediate both hurricanes and the Greenhouse Effect at the same time?

In 1993 I was the lead author of a paper published in the Journal of Marine Biotechnology [ibid, Takahashi, 1993] suggesting this prospect. While this outcome is especially questioned by scientists, it certainly seemed to me that as we absorbed all the upwelled carbon dioxide through marine biomass plantations, we should be able to add a combination of minerals, including iron and nitrogen compounds, to also take up this gas from the atmosphere, as shown in the Martin experiment. Mind you, environmentalists detest this form of water pollution. But the Audubon Society is against windmills, so society needs to take a stand for the good of the community.

This leads me to the Iron Lung Syndrome…

But society keeps adhering to the iron lung syndrome. Hurricanes are a good example. Huge amounts of money are being spent on strengthening homes, levees, harbors, whatever, in anticipation of the next big one. We are again reacting to the symptom and not curing the problem. We are building more expensive equivalents of the iron lung when our focus should be to cure the problem, the hurricane itself.

Take sea level rise as yet another example. Conferences, time, money and confusion have accumulated to discuss how to counteract this symptom of global climate warming. Walls around cities are being considered and whole populations are scheduled to be moved, especially in places like Bangladesh or atolls in the Pacific. Again, why build that more elaborate iron lung when you can find a vaccine for the problem, which is to remediate climate warming.

The beauty of the Blue Revolution is that there is a distinct possibility that, while producing sustainable next generation marine products, providing exciting new habitats and bedeviling the United Nations with ten thousand countries, hurricanes can be prevented and, maybe, sea level rise can be obviated by controlling global climate warming. Why has this simple solution become the crawl better called the Blue Evolution? Help!

A Couple of Ocean Ventures

There are two fanciful marine free enterprise adventures worthy of note. I’ve mostly been involved with research and development, and early in my career, a link to a private venture operation was deemed in academia to be unwise. Private universities long ago appreciated the value of partnerships with the private industry. Stanford University with its Silicon Valley, MIT’s University Park and the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina are such successful pursuits….

This ivory tower attitude of state universities has crumbled over the past few years, but as early as the mid’80’s, I tailored the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute to work as closely as possible with companies, and founded the Fellows in Renewable Energy Engineering Program with funds from ARCO, Hawaiian Electric Company and a wide variety of industrial contributors. Now, campuses are the keys to economic development. Thus, it was well within my general philosophy to develop new enterprises, where any profits would go towards research.

The Great Treasure Hunt

The first occurred in the early to mid 1990’s when contacts in the Soviet Union suggested the use of their deep ocean capabilities to search for treasures. Their advantage was extremely low cost for the most advanced of ocean technology. I prepared a white paper entitled, “The Great Treasure Hunt,” inspired by Robert Ballard’s success with the Titanic.

The concept made eminent sense. I even went to Seville, Spain to search for documents hinting about most likely targets of opportunity…...

The treasure hunt never went anywhere, possibly because I learned from a close colleague that a typical drinking session on a Russian ship was vodka and what must be lard, something very close to Crisco, a Proctor and Gamble product consisting of pure animal fat. However, these same marine capabilities still remain for anyone wishing to pursue this type of escapade.

Rainbow Pearls, International

The second venture has become a series of epicurean treats. This all started around the time of the above hunt when Paul Yuen and I discussed with former Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi the desirability of growing pearl oysters at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii…..

The experiments went well, and we learned that not only could we control the growth conditions on land, but that the pearls grew at twice of rate of the traditionally cultivated version. The Governor was able to gain additional funding until the Orient market crashed, so the project was abandoned. But the attraction of growing a product that could be sold for $10 or $100/oyster, as opposed to $0.25 for just the eating type, remained in my memory.

Then, it occurred to me that, as we could regulate the growth conditions, why not try to produce colored pearls. Not only white and black, but what about Chinese Red and Kelly Green? Someday, perhaps, the Royal Hawaiian Rainbow Pearl Necklace could reach the marketplace……

If you someday see pearls of intense hue in your jewelers, chances are that this team had something to do with the introduction. The question is whether we will be doing this using the traditional oyster or just a laboratory growth chamber.

What Next?

There is a temptation to call this section, “What Went Wrong?” I can actually list why progress has been a random order process of taking two steps forward, one back, three forward, another back, etc……

Thus, as much as nothing seems to be happening beyond better measuring the ocean, there now seems to be a growing trend that the time might have finally come for next generation fisheries, marine biomass plantations, biofuels from the sea, ocean cities, and the like. The Blue Revolution!

The Simple Solution for the Blue Revolution

Like most grand endeavors, the Blue Revolution will not just happen overnight. There has already been some success on land, as the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is doing very well with deep ocean potable water (through reverse osmosis).125 Japan has ten such deep ocean fluid facilities and products are blossoming.

But what of the future in the deep ocean? It can be projected that The Blue Revolution will occur, but maybe more slowly than earlier anticipated…….

A simple solution for this movement is to find a benefactor. The Georgia Aquarium started with a gift of $250 million from Bernie Marcus, founder of The Home Depot, to the city of Atlanta. But this was only the leverage to entice BellSouth, Georgia-Pacific and a host other corporations, including from Coca-Cola, which donated the land. From first dollar to operation took all of four years.

As I would like the Blue Revolution to take hold in Hawaii, we need to first find this benefactor to finance the building of the Aquarium of the Pacific on a floating platform dynamically positioned off Honolulu, far enough offshore so that visual pollution detractors could only provide a weak argument, but close enough so tourists can be shuttled to the attraction. On the platform would be a resort-casino-complex and the headquarters for the Blue Revolution Institute to pioneer R&D in ocean resources, next generation fisheries and sustainable energy. I recall once discussing a floating casino for Hawaii with someone who said he represented Kirk Kerkorian, who now at the age of 90 is worth $15 billion. Only a billion dollars would be nice. The Blue Revolution legacy would be his.

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