|The project team on October 17 2014. (Photo courtesy Prof. Sagredo)|
Electricity shortages represent one of the major problems facing the Dominican Republic. For more than 50 years, the country has experienced daily electric power blackouts lasting some four to five hours. The cost of electricity in the Dominican Republic is more than 2.5 times the average cost worldwide, which causes financial hardships not only for the general public but also for operators of the large hotels that contribute substantially to the country's economy. Air conditioning uses approximately 60% of the electricity consumed in tourist areas of the Dominican. Given the high cost of electricity and frequent power outages, implementation of a reliable, renewable, and nonpolluting energy source that can supply air conditioning to these hotels would represent the difference between economic survival versus bankruptcy, with its associated severe impacts on local employment.
This PEER Science project is designed to develop a model for how such an energy system could be designed and implemented. Dr. Sagredo and his team will place remote sensors at regular intervals along the sea bed to gather data to create an Ocean Temperature Profile from the city of Puerto Plata extending eight miles north until a depth of 1,000 meters is reached. The data collected will provide input to the design of a pipe along the sea floor that would extract the cold bearing water to the surface at Puerto Plata to provide a cold-water supply for air conditioning. Besides designing the pipe, the researchers will also study potential environmental impacts of their system, as well as optimization of the energy that would be needed to pump the seawater. Once their designs and models are complete, they will share their findings with local stakeholders, including hotel operators and entrepreneurs who might be interested in supporting implementation of the system after the PEER Science project is complete.
Summary of Recent Activities
In the first quarter of 2015, the team designed the Rankine Cycle components which utilize an ocean thermal energy converter and solar thermal energy so that the system in completely powered by renewable energy. This work was conducted within the MatLab, SolidWorks, and AutoCad design stations. Construction of the solar water heater was completed and the team expects to begin trial runs in April. The gas turbine was also optimized for a capacity of 1600 kW using a halogenated refrigerant and intensive research was done to create a unique mercury heat exchanger. This work was deemed necessary by the project team following tests with commercial heat exchangers which were not feasible due to low temperature differences.
|PI Sagredo presents his project to local hotel managers (Photo courtesy of Prof. Sagredo).|
The team also completed a survey of potential clients in the area of Puerto Plata. This is a very important objective as it dictates the implementation phase. According to a study by Makai Engineering of Hawaii, installing and utilizing 6835 tons of SWAC cooling in Puerto Plata, has the potential annual energy savings of $2,256,000.00 when compared to conventional refrigeration. At present, based on the team’s partial client survey, the project has obtained interest in a total of 9702 tons of cooling and will continue until they reach their goal of 20,000 tons. Back to PEER Cycle 2 Grant Recipients
During this time, Professor Sagredo attended the PEER Participants’ Forum in Lima. He participated in a panel on outreach to policy makers as well as gave a poster presentation to the other event participants. In addition to this event, Prof. Sagredo attended the Caribbean Energy Security Summit, hosted by Vice President Biden, in Washington DC, from January 25 to 27, 2015. There, he had the opportunity to speak with the Honorable Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy of the United States and explain the implications of his research project for the Dominican Republic.
Prof. Sagredo plans to continue his travels in the coming months. From June 21 – 28, he will visit the Makai Ocean Engineering Corp. and the Natural Energy Laboratory of the Hawaii Authority (NELHA) in Hawaii. He hopes to establish a working relationship with the two SWAC authorities in order to facilitate project development in Puerto Plata. The team will also continue its research and construction regarding the project systems, particularly the mercury heat exchanger. Trial runs are set to begin in April for the solar energy pilot plant and solar water heat collector.