Sep 272017

Could Evaporating Water Be the Next Big Thing in Renewable Energy?

Claim is that the US has the *potential* for 325 gigawatts of electrical power from harnessing the power of evaporation, sing technologies that seem a little tenuous. Utah supposedly had the potential for 47 gigawatts.

Of course, this sort of system of power generation is weather dependent, like solar and wind. Evaporation rates go down when the temperature goes down, such as night and winter. Still, *if* his sort of thing can be made practical… I have an idea.

First, dredge out the Great Salt Lake (a half baked crazy notion I’ve mentioned before). Dig it out substantially deeper, refill with ocean water, stock with fish.Turn the lake – currently pretty useless – into a productive gigantic fish farm. Then put the evaporation power systems in place over much of it. These would block a fair percentage of the light, but enough would get through to keep the ecosystem humming along. On warm sunny days, the evaporation power system cranks out the gigawatts.

At night, on cloudy and cold days… the nuclear systems in the lake kick on to full power. Bopping around under the lake would be purpose-built submarines, basically mobile nuclear reactors. They would use the lake water as the heat sink for the heat exchangers for the power systems; this would heat up the lake during winter… actually promoting evaporation. The subs need not do a whole lot of traveling; they’d be tethered to electrical nodes with massive power cables, and would only need to move around enough to make them untargetable for terrorists in jetliners and the like.

Honestly, I think covering the lake with perforated mats of PV arrays would be better than evaporation engines, but… whatever works.

 Posted by at 12:50 am
  • Peter Hanely

    Vast amounts of energy represented in natural evaporation. But I’m very skeptical of the practicality of engines to harness it. Neither temperature nor pressure gradient involved imply decent Carnot efficiency.

    • publiusr

      Maybe something for Titan one day…