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Thursday, September 12, 2013


The Natural Energy  Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) was created by the State Legislature in 1974.  Just after the 1973 First Energy Crisis, Dean of Marine Programs John Craven (to the left a more recent photo) and Dean of Engineering John Shupe, with Hideto Kono, director of the Department of Economic Planning and Development, agreed to divide the local energy pie:  Craven would have authority over ocean R&D, Shupe for renewable energy R&D (for which also in 1974 the Legislature approved the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii) and Kono would have authority over energy conservation and policy, and would supervise the lab at Keahole Point.  The energy history of Hawaii does not report on these details, but I just happened to sit in on some of those meetings.

Tom Daniel provided a brief history of OTEC research at NELHA.  I presented to UNESCO in Paris a lecture on OTEC, while the following source provides various other papers on this general subject. If you read all those listed publications you can consider yourself an authority on ocean thermal energy conversion and the Blue Revolution.

NELHA is like a second home for me.  In the 1980's, Bill Avery of The Johns Hopkins University and I had a project on using UV to control biofouling in OTEC heat exchangers.  With C. B. Panchal, we reported on our findings in ultrasonics and ultraviolet treatment.  Who knows, if environmentalists ding electronically sparked chlorine, our non-chemical technique might still someday be used.  I was also Secretary of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Board in the 80's.  I couldn't find a photo of Bill, so here is one of C. B. Panchal.

Avery wrote the definitive text on OTEC, while Andy Trenka and I published a book, entitled, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (left), commissioned by the United Nations for developing countries.  I just went to that Amazon site and found that a used copy is on sale for $370 (Avery's is "only" $256).  Anyone want my original for that price?

But that's not all, for in the 90's, a company was formed with former Governor of Hawaii George Ariyoshi, Dean of Engineering Paul Yuen and I (then director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute) to grow pearl oysters at NELHA.  I've always felt that energy and food were both too cheap to make a profit at this laboratory.  High value products needed to bridge the transition.  Another byproduct of this thinking resulted in a major grant from the National Science Foundation to my Institute for the Marine Bioproducts Engineering Center focusing on biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.  About the pearl experiment, Ariyoshi obtained funding from Japanese pearl companies and I went all the way to Australia to recruit Neil Sims (right) to manage our pearl farm.  Unfortunately, we did not commercialize this effort, so Neil went on to form Kona Blue and Kampachi Farms.

Presentations at the Gateway Center were chaired by Kerry Kehoe (left) of NOAA and Hyeon-Ju Kim (right) of the South Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology.  Interestingly enough, Dr. Kim mentioned to me that he first began to get involved with this field after he met me in my Manoa Campus office 15 years ago.

Greg Barbour (left), director of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, provided an authoritative summary of his operation.  So did Luis Vega of the University of Hawaii on OTEC.  I am not showing his photo because I overuse him in my blogs.  But click on THIS, to see what he looks like.

There was a general discussion moderated by Kerry Kehoe to determine how best to proceed.  While I made my usual statement about finding the right billionaire, Kehoe was able to gain agreement from the group to form an international virtual committee to prepare position papers for an upcoming next gathering in Busan, South Korea in June of 2014.  I volunteered to help.

I ate a Chardonnay grape being grown on the premises operated by Richard Bailey (right), founder of DewPoint Systems, perfecting cold water agriculture:

My fingers are holding up that grape.

The group then went to Big Island Abalone, where I noticed that they were also utilizing cold water ag to grow passion fruit (lilikoi):

We then spent some time at the newest pumping station for surface and deep waters, ending the day at the Makai Ocean Engineering heat exchange facility, which by April of 2014 will be producing 100kW of OTEC power:

This was followed by a fabulous reception of unlimited drinks and a wide assortment of seafood in a cold water air conditioned conference room.  I had a chance to discuss with Dave Vaughn, who was the individual who brought Guy Toyama into the Friends of NELHA.  We talked about how we coild continue the legacy of Guy.

But this was not the end of the day.  The County of Hawaii hosted in the King Kamehameha Hotel the visiting Japanese dignitaries participating in the workshop tomorrow.  This has to be fate, but Rika, Guy's wife, was there.  Here is a photo of three good friends, with Yasu Ikegami, the current OTEC professor of Japan from Saga University and Mac Takahashi, formerly the OTEC professor of Japan when he was at Tokyo University, to my left:

Since we're both Takahashis, Mac keeps referring me as his uncle, and I respond that he is the uncle.  The reality is that I am two years older than him.  Note that he is drinking two bottles of beer and I'm just eating edamame, but that's only because my two drinks cannot be seen.  Yasu and I are exhibiting the latest fashion in Aloha shirts.

Unfortunately, for me, this ordeal continues tomorrow with an all day workshop of the above individuals to further develop the Okinawa-Hawaii partnership on OTEC.  Hey, I'm, joking, of course, for I'm looking forward to this important next stage.  Return tomorrow for the details.


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