The project team on October 17 2014. (Photo courtesy Dr. 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
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Dr. Sagredo and his team focused their fourth quarter efforts on marketing the feasibility of Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC), data collection, and the construction of key elements of their system. In terms of sharing their project ideas, the team presented at the Evaluating the Feasibility of Deep Seawater Cooling in the Dominican Republic seminar on November 13, 2014. The seminar was attended by representatives from multiple international organizations that are key players in the field of sea water air conditioning. The team also hosted Anders Sjoholm, the CEO of the Swedish corporation, Capitol Cooling and a potential investor in the project. Mr. Anders visited the team’s research office to ascertain the investment potential of the project and both he and Dr. Sagredo met with the director of the Hotel Owners Association of Playa Dorada in Puerto Plata in which they discussed SWAC potential for three independent hotels.
In addition to the first two events, the project team held a conference at the Hotel Barceló of Playa Dorada in Puerto Plata in which they presented the project’s feasibility to hotel managers and owners in the area. The team aimed to secure support from these crucial stakeholders and their position was further reinforced by the Vice-Minister of Energy and Mines who, on behalf of the Dominican government, publically endorsed the project to the invited stakeholders. Following this meeting, Dr. Sagredo was interviewed on the local TV channel, CANAL MUSA, where he spoke of the economic and environmental benefits this project would have for Puerto Plata.
The team also continued their work on the construction, planning, and physical design of their SWAC system. The team constructed a prototype halogenated solar heat motor which familiarized team members with the practical side of halogenated refrigerants and demonstrated the correlation between the theory and application of the thermodynamic aspects for the Rankine Cycles. Two preliminary designs for water supply were also completed as well as the design two major components, the R134b power turbine and the principle heat exchanger.
In the next three months, the project team will use Capitol Cooling surveying tools survey potential clients that will form the District Cooling System. The team will also complete their final system designs in preparation for construction and will conduct multiple sea expeditions to collect data along the two main project axes. In the spring, the project team plans to visit Hawaii and Sweden in order to exchange technical and business propositions with the Makai Corporation of the United States and Capital Cooling of Sweden. In Hawaii, the team will visit the University of Hawaii, which conducts significant ocean research and hopefully, the navy base which has a fully operational SWAC system.