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Monday, January 30, 2017

UPDATE ON THE BLUE REVOLUTION

There was, of course, the Green Revolution, a term applied to the technological advances of grain production,  Norman Borlaug, the so-called Father of the Green Revolution, won a Nobel Prize in 1970 for his efforts.  While fraught with problems here and there, the next green revolution shows promise for further improving agriculture.

For good reason I guess, as we have messed up our land and atmosphere, most of the efforts ongoing about our oceans seem mostly protective.  Many are aware of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Oceana, Greenpeace, Ocean Conservancy and Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.  

Take a close look at every outstanding university with marine eminence, their focus is almost solely confined to observation, measurement and modeling.  There is almost no funding for development of sustainable ocean resources for the future of humanity.

Thus was created the Blue Revolution.  Previous engineering emphases were focused on water production, energy and fisheries.   Not sure who actually coined the term itself, but blame me, for a quarter century ago, after a decade of being involved with elemental aspects of the field, I thought why not combine all the useful aspects of the field. The Blue Revolution has had three linked pathways:  water production, future fisheries and the cornucopia of bioproducts spawned by the total ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) process. While the Green Revolution did, indeed, improve agriculture, the Blue Revolution not only promises to develop sustainable resources, but, perhaps more importantly, also enhance the environment.

For past summaries of this concept, my various Huffington Post articles can be read:
There are several more if you want further clarification.

Click on:


This posting of almost six years ago provides some background of the early marine venturers.  It ends with Kiyonori Kikutake, who in 1958 advanced his Marine City project.  In 1975 he designed Aquapolis (left) for the Okinawa Ocean Expo.  

I visited this facility several times, and tried to convince the powers that were to rehabilitate and send this platform to Lisbon, when they hosted the next ocean expo, which occurred in 1998.  But back to Kikutake, with John Craven, for the 1976 bicentennial, they built a scale model of their floating city, weighing 150 tons, helped by 130 volunteers and $80,000.  Unfortunately, early in the effort, the structure sank, and might well still be rusting away in Kaneohe Bay.  Sad to say, but no one has since that fiasco built anything worthy of mention.  

Having observed the success Lockheed had in 1979 of proving that net-positive could be attained with their Mini-OTEC off Keahole Point on the Big Island, where the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) is now located, I happened to be working for U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga in DC, who asked me to draft the first OTEC bill.  This legislation became law in 1980, having a goal of 10,000 megawatts in 1999.  

How successful were we?  Today, there is approximately zero MW of net-positive OTEC power being generated.  The two OTEC facilities on Kumejima (Okinawa) and NELHA have failed to produce more energy than used.

In the early 80s, Paul Yuen and I, working closely with the state government and U.S. Congress, created the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR).  The first real published paper on the Blue Revolution followed a keynote presentation Richard Matsumura and I made in 1991 at the First Very Large Floating Structures Conference.  Matsuura was a State Senator and had worked for Norman Borlaug on the Green Revolution.   

1992 was a big year for the concept as Joseph Vadus and I hosted a workshop on how to build the Blue Revolution Platform, and I ghost wrote for Senator Daniel Inouye a Sea Technology paper titled The American Blue Revolution.  You can read all the details in Chapter 4 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth.  Here is an excerpt serialized in this blog site.  If only we had succeeded in finding $500 million (or half a billion dollars) after that 1992 gathering for the Blue Revolution, instead of the world spending $150 billion for the International Space Station, which could well crash down to Earth in 2020 without starting even one successful company, I can only dream as to how much better off Humanity would be today. 

PICHTR's showcase project was the 210 kW open cycle OTEC experiment at NELHA, which was tested from 1993-1998.  That was the last major facility anything close to net positive.  This was truly an international partnership, as Japan absorbed about a third of the cost.  It's almost unimaginable to me, but this was two decades ago.

OTEC is important because the system provides electricity, nutrients to initiate the bio-growth cycle, freshwater, next generation fisheries, hydrogen and other sustainable energies, plus prevent hurricanes from forming and remediate global warming.  Placed on a floating platform, marine industrial parks, and in time marine cities, can be supported.

The reality of this all is that the Blue Revolution has become the Blue Evolution.  But things are happening.  Unfortunately, Bill Spencer of Hawaii Oceanic Technology shut down his ahi farm concept.  Bill participated in the planning of the Blue Revolution.  Here is a photo of a Blue Revolution Hawaii board dinner, and Bill is the second person on the right.  Note, we're all wearing blue.

On the plus side, I donated my apartment to initiate a Blue Revolution program at the University of Hawaii.  The Seasteading Institute has formed a partnership with French Polynesia to build floating islands (right).  Watch a talk I provided to the Institute on the Blue Revolution.

So what of the future?  Well, Lockheed Martin indicated that the time for OTEC is now.  Frankly, what the Blue Revolution needs is an enlightened billionaire.  Please send me one, or more.

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