OTEC – Beorse Article

OTEC – BEORSE April 1980
Muhaima ADDENDUM, May, 1980

Bryn Beorse passed away April 29, 1980, still actively working to break through “superstition,” the false mental structures preventing progress in the realization of truth and sense. He had seen the Senate OTEC bill passed, expected the House bill to do so soon. He realized that his practical work to make OTEC and other benign energy systems known is being shared by other willing hands.

He gave us warnings and encouragement to be free from limited, programmed thinking. From two private letters:
…1,000 top scientists and engineers have more than 5 years experience with OTEC — the other 99,000 scientists and engineers do not and believe they can judge. This is the dangerous fallacy in our society. The technical community does not know technology — only their own particular bailiwick….
…. Please remember: There are no experts, – except those who have worked five years or more on any particular system. Then they become experts in this limited system, not in anything else…experts are limited to certain gadgets — in realizing that all the ‘expert’ bull has distorted our information circuit we can free ourselves from this bondage and we may survive.

Always evaluate who says what, and why he has to, and what eons of experience he has. Titles are elusive things. Science, technology, cybernetics, breaking free from old, stagnant, tired concepts into fluid creativity, humanity using its potentials, the ideal of lucid intelligence and cooperative enterprise — individuals together — these things were in him.

Beorse wrote, provocatively, in Every Willing Hand:
Life in this world with its responsibilities, wars, worries and jarring influences, was made by man, for man, for his spiritual awakening and evolution, and is not to be shunned by him who wants to know and grow  … Conditions, surroundings master us only as long as, we let them…. go out and fight…. think of nothing but living…. that your truer and deeper self may live and act – and move for the improvement of your community.

OTEC – BEORSE April 1980
By Janet Muhaima Startt

“The United states could have energy sufficiency in fifteen years, stop all oil imports, and become an exporter of low-cost benign energy technology to other nations. We have a technology which from its very inception would significantly reduce World tensions. The oceans contain all the power we could ever want – more than 100 times the power it is estimated we will need by the year 2000. For the last sixty years we have been working on the technology to harness this ocean-stored solar energy. The plans are refined now; we know how to build these plants. Some of our biggest companies are ready to do this at any time.”

Bryn Beorse, Research Associate at the University of California’s Sea Water Conversion Laboratory, was discussing OTEC – Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion.

Bryn Beorse has worked with solar energy systems for more than thirty years. After participating in research and building of OTEC components with the French Energie des Mers in the late 1940’s, he returned to the United States in 1948 and introduced the system to Dean Everett D. Howe’s newly created Sea Water Conversion Laboratory, set up to study a wide variety of ocean-related technologies.

He is an engineer who calls himself a “drifter” since he toiled and fought in sixty-seven countries. He is the author of The Future is Ours, on economics, Every Willing Hand, on the employment problem, and other books. He has testified on solar energy at Department of Energy hearings and before Congressman Gerry Studds’ House Subcommittee on Oceanography. Unattached to DOE or other contracts, he moves freely to evaluate energy proposals and development plans.

At 83, Beorse has seen the promises, disappointments, and achievements of many energy systems. He believes it is imperative to initiate immediate construction of ecologically benign energy systems on both a large and small scale to insure the United States’ – and the world’s – survival.

Bryn Beorse sees the earth as a living, fragile, interdependent organism. Defining his function as “an agent for survival,” he is an exponent of the unity of life.

In San Francisco recently, he emphasized the importance of solar technologies, environmental protection, ocean energy development, and humanity’s growing awareness of the interconnected rhythm of all living things.
Q: Please explain OTEC and its value as an energy source.
A: Ocean thermal power is the largest solar energy system and the only one that requires no storage system. The storage is in the ocean itself. The OTEC plant operates on the temperature difference between the sun-heated ocean surface and cold water 500 metres down or more. The warm surface water is sucked into a boiler. In the “Open Cycle” version the water boils under vacuum. The steam runs a turbine driving generator.
On the down side of the turbine this steam is condensed by cold water pumped up from the deep.

In 1881 this began as an idea or theory in the mind of a French physicist Arsene d’Arsonval. In 1913 Americans, Germans, and Italians began to work. In 1926 French engineers George Claude and Paul Boucherot built a laboratory open cycle plant and had it inspected by the Academy of Sciences in Paris. They built a larger fully operating plant at Ougree in Belgium and finally one in Cuba. The French Energie des Mers built and installed a cold water pipeline as part of an open cycle plant in Abidjan, West Africa in the forties and fifties and carefully documented corrosion and biofouling during six months. In the 1950ls we at the University of California built three small demonstration plants. The American Association of Mechanical Engineers published both George Claude’s and the University’s accomplishments. The U.S. President didn’t come running asking us to solve the world’s energy need. A more flamboyant animal had his attention:
Nuclear Power.

It took the oil crunch in the 70’s for Americans generally to become interested. Nuclear power looked less glamorous. Our giant firms didn’t feel Japan, India, or even France should exhaust their sparse resources – and be ahead of us in a colossal coming technology.
As an East Indian general and businessman said, ‘It happens first in America.’ So our biggest companies and seven major universities jumped into the fray. Curiously though, some of these companies and universities, including the U.S. Energy Department, concentrated exclusively on the so-called ‘Closed Cycle’ OTEC plant, in which a ‘working fluid’ (ammonia or other refrigerant) boils rather than ocean water. This involves enormous heat exchangers and leakage of the working fluid may be a problem.
The reason may be unfamiliarity with the ‘flash evaporation’ of sea water and fear of the turbine with open cycle plants – something that highly surprises all turbine experts, for example in the Westinghouse Corporation, which, like George Claude, definitely favors the open cycle and considers it much cheaper and safer than the closed one. Both types are cheaper and faster to build than nuclear plants ~ and ecologically far superior.

The open cycle OTEC plants produce desalted water in addition to power. The Johns Hopkins University has designed OTEC GRAZING PLANTS that produce fuel or other industrial products that may be shipped to shore.

Further OTEC types are the Foam type or Mist type, in which a water wheel instead of a steam turbine is used, which decreases cost. On these types further research is required.

Research, planning, and building of small demonstration plants have encouraged business to now plan practical plants. Westinghouse (interested from the beginning), Lockheed, Bechtel, TRW, Sea Solar Power, General Electric, the Colorado School or Hines, Global Marine, and Stearns and Roger Hydronautics, and many major universities are now ready to build.

Q: Since OTEC is an ocean-based system, would only seacoasts benefit?
A: No. It will reach anywhere. For instance, Professor William E. Heronemus of the University of Massachusetts proposes to provide all power in New England by fuel brought from OTEC ships in the mid-Atlantic.

Q: How does one derive solid, liquid, or gaseous fuel from an OTEC plant?
A: The ocean has all the chemical components that are needed to produce a fuel – the ocean and the air together. The ocean contains, as you know, hydrogen and oxygen; the air contains nitrogen, oxygen and many other things. The OTEC produces power. This power can be used to combine these things into fuel such as ammonia or hydrogen.

Q: These fuels can then be ‘used to replace oil or coal?
A: Yes. Very little adjustment would be needed. We don’t need to reduce power consumption. We could of course; we should. But it is not necessary.

If an OTEC plant is built up to one hundred miles off shore electrical power can be transmitted to shore by current underwater cables. Or an OTEC plant could be built on shore, with the cold water pipeline laid out along the ocean floor to its right depth. ‘The power would be transmitted to users by a regular grid.

Dr. W. H. Avery and Dr. Gordon Dugger at Johns Hopkins University have designed floating OTEC plants in the mid-ocean, directed by satellites to areas of’ maximal thermal difference at each season. Fuel and other products produced by this plant would be transported to shore by ship.

Estimates for building OTEC plants vary from $500-$2500/kilowatt. Beyond building cost comes maintenance and repair, no fuel cost. Thus, the OTEC plants would be our cheapest energy source, and cost would decline.

The question of ‘biofouling’ has been studied for sixty years and is under control.
A grid would keep all but the smallest plankton from being drawn into the pipe.
No added burden is put on the environment.

Reluctance to invest meaningfully in working plants is due to lack of experience in the field. Bryn Beorse stated at a D.O.E. solar energy hearing in 1978:
“It is essential to understand that one who builds and tests a small plant gains an insight into its potential, its economics that no one else can share. So we need demonstration plants – not to convince the men of experience – but to convince the others.
These others, however, in government or elsewhere, often do not realize their handicap and write ponderous documents preventing progress. This is particularly unfortunate at this time….” Still, there is a readiness now to build OTEC plants through private industry.
Bryn is pleased that a number of senators and representatives have proposed bills for building OTEC and by 1986 have 10,000 (ten thousand) megawatts on line. Senate bill S-1830 was introduced on June 21, 1979 by Senator Matsunaga of Hawaii and Senators Jackson, Church, and Inouye among others. House bill H.R. 5796 was introduced on November 2, 1979 by Congressmen Gerry Studds, Fuqua, and others recommending
OTEC funding. H.R. 6154, introduced by Congressmen Studds, Murphy (of New York) and others on December 14, 1979, would establish procedures for location, construction, and operation of OTEC facilities.

OTEC is adaptable to its environment. If the temperature difference between surface and deeper ocean waters is not sufficient to sustain a power-producing plant, OTEC could still be used to produce desalted fresh water by plugging it into an outside power source. Power input would be approximately one-fourth of that required by the presently most economical plants.

The University of California developed just such plants for the Los Angeles/Malibu area, producing five million gallons of fresh water a day for home, industrial, or agricultural use. This type of OTEC could be built for La Jolla/San Diego.

One might ask why the Feather River project was built and the Peripheral Canal is proposed, while OTEC, which would give fresh water, not take it away from a place, is ignored. Only one state representative in Sacramento ever asked him about the plans, Beorse says; no one ever followed up on the information he gave. Information is still available in case they should ask.

Q: The government expresses interest in ‘synfuel’ – what about that as a partial replacement for imported oil?
A: So far, they plan to take it from coal or from tar sands or from shale – all of these will produce more pollution than we have now. And Roger Revelle and other sober scientists see a danger of damaging climatic changes. There are so many other renewable energy sources. Professor Melvin Calvin at the University of California at Berkeley, for example, has travelled the world and come back with information on growing plants that produce oil that could replace imported oil immediately. There is such a crowd of good ways to get energy without the deplorable situation we have now.

Q: Oil companies are interested in OTEC?
A: Yes. The oil companies have the money and the ability to build these things.
They are, after all, big units of democratic thinking people. A good friend of mine is an oil company geologist, for instance; he realizes that the oil companies should have diverted energy from totally oil to include other things. He wants to help humanity survive.

Q: Are Americans able to consider survival in terms of both long-range and immediate goals? It would take time to build these OTEC plants.
A: OTEC plants can be built in two years, and we have that time. If we don’t start now, we won’t survive. Some food problems and energy problems have to be solved in order for us to survive…it’s down to very primitive physical things. OTEC offers a solution to those problems.

The American people aren’t different from other people. People can think and do anything. And some people say, for instance, that all we think about how is ‘me’ – we have the ‘Me Decade.’ That’s nonsense. That’s not what all people think about. That’s what some people think about, and often the well-educated, unfortunately. But the majority of Americans don’t think that way at all. They want to work with others and
that’s why we still have a nation. If the nation were as the academics sometimes picture it, we would have died long ago. And, ‘Can the American people think like that?’ People can think any way, anytime, anything they want… and they do.

Q: Nuclear energy is considered an alternative to oil.
A: I think this nation is 52% against nuclear energy. And that is a great advance in thinking. And the honor there is mainly due to Dr. John W. Gofman  who was Associate Director of Livermore Laboratory for seven years, and is both a medical man and a physicist and has authored many nuclear-related inventions.
He’s the one man in the world who knows most about nuclear power. His latest book is Irrevy, which beautifully pictures the whole monstrosity we call nuclear power.

Q: Where would one build OTECs to serve the United States?
A: There is a small demonstration plant in Hawaii now – built for further research only.
OTEC plants might be built in the Gulf of Mexico or around Florida.
But as Barry Commoner and Amory Lovins have pointed out, in California we wouldn’t even need OTEC plants. We could  still do it by other means… wind, solar, plants that grow oil, and so on. There are ten or twelve alternatives. If you want, you can build OTECs and transfer that energy; if you don’t want to do that you can do other things.
There’s a great amount of work done outside government. There is hope for survival.

Senators and Congressmen can provide people with information on the Senate and House OTEC legislation. For further information on OTEC people can write to

Sea Water Conversion Laboratory, Richmond Field Station, 47th and Hoffman Blvd., Richmond, California, 94804. Alternative Directions in Energy and Economics (A.D.E.E.), 502 Presidio, San Francisco, California is one of several non-profit organizations distributing information about benign energy systems, including OTEC.
OTEC is one of the simplest energy technologies. The temperature difference between the heat-storing surface ocean water and colder Ocean depths is utilized to run a steam turbine engine, which in turn runs a generator producing electrical power.

The steam turbine engine works by forcing steam to push a turbine wheel. The working fluid is boiled; the steam under pressure turns the wheel, then is condensed to liquid again on the down side of the turbine. All steam turbine engines work this way.

In the “OPEN cycle” OTEC, sea water is the working fluid, made to boil by lowering air pressure in the boiler. Just as water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes because the air pressure is lower, so warm sea water will boil on its own, without heating, in the OTEC boiler if air pressure is sufficiently reduced. This steam then turns the turbine. On the down side of the turbine cold water pumped up from deeper ocean layers condenses the steam, which is desalted water.

In the “CLOSED cycle” plant, ammonia or other volatile fluid with a low boiling point is used. Sea water transfers its heat through heat exchangers to the liquid, causing it to boil.
Cold sea water from the ocean currents 500 metres down or more condenses this steam as in the open cycle plant.

A temperature difference of 20° C. between surface and deeper layer waters is required for a power-producing OTEC plant. One built for desalination purposes only could be
built where the temperature difference is 10°-15° C., running on energy supplied by an outside power source.

Like the tip of an iceberg, only the top of the offshore OTEC plant would be visible.The work would be done under the ocean surface.

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Bryn Beorse: In Search of Mystic Balance

By Neil Klotz (originally published in New Age Magazine, late ’70’s)

“…At eighty-one, Beorse abjures all titles and will be the first to correct, gently but firmly, anyone who uses one on him…”

Therefore, O Ananda, be a lamp unto yourself
Rely on yourself and do not rely on external help, holding fast to the truth as a lamp.
Seek salvation alone in the truth, and do not look for assistance to anyone besides yourself -from the Buddha’s farewell address to his disciples

It was India, 1959, and Bryn Beorse was sixty-three years old. He had spent the better part of his life as a man of the world, as an engineer and economist working on solar energy and full employment, as an advisor to foreign governments and the United Nations, as a traveller living in sixty-seven countries, as a member of the Norwegian Underground in World War II, as the author of eight books, and at the same time as a spiritual disciple of the sufi mystic Inayat Khan.
Beorse was somewhat discouraged at the time, because he had been fighting for twenty years to interest governments in a technology that would tap the massive solar energy resources in the sea. But it was 1959, and the nuclear power chimera of “atoms for peace” had taken the energy community by storm.

“I had had an experience,” says Beorse, “where I was talking to Prime Minister Nehru and a room full of scientists, whom I felt were listening and were interested, but that nothing would come of it. So I felt I might just as well go on retreat.”

Bryn Beorse headed for the Himalayas, followed the pilgrim trail toward Badrinath, and, at the last station, Josimath, rushed up a mountain trail, along a stream.

“I drank from the stream from time to time,” he recalls, “and it became more beautiful and more life-giving for every mile that I ascended, until at last I had the feeling that I just flew up with no hindrance. And I began to think that this was the place where I should spend the rest of my life. Then, just as I was thinking this, I saw a cave, cut right into a steep wall of rock.

“It was one of those caves where you’d expect a saint to be looking out from the opening. So I said to myself, ‘Oh, this is exactly where I should stay. Perhaps I could sit there meditating for the rest of my life. But how am I to get in?’ ”

“Then I discovered, by climbing higher, that there was a way of getting in, a shaft down into the cave. At the bottom it was really dark. And as I was feeling around, I felt something furry that went BRROOOOM and then I felt again and it went BRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM. And I thought, ‘I better get out of here.’ So a Himalayan bear, which I think now was pushed by Inayat Khan, told me to get out of there, go back, work on yourself, work on solar energy, work in the world. So here I am back in the world. ”

And, at eighty-one, Bryn Beorse is still here, still fighting for clean energy, full employment, and the work in the world which he says is necessary for mystic balance. Much of this balance, he says, lies in working with the one’s point of view. Beorse expresses his own point of view with a good deal of vigor, but apparently without any attempt to have others follow him.

“I express what I feel because I have been asked to, and one may or may not listen to that as they wish,” he says. In fact, he says, taking someone else’s point of view is much of what the sufi training is about, although the word sufi has been widely misunderstood to refer ‘to a sect of Islam or some other religion.
“A sufi,” he recalls his teacher saying, “has two points of view, his own and that of the other. And who is this other? Everybody in the world. In other words, he has at least three billion points of view, because he has to have that of himself and any other being.”

One of the things sufis themselves have different points of view about is the matter of titles and ranks. Although Beorse is the oldest living disciple of Inayat Khan – the man who founded the Sufi Order in the West in 1910 – and has been accorded the title of murshid, or “teacher,” he abjures all titles and will be the first to correct, gently but firmly, anyone who uses one on him. He will point, instead, to Buddha’s farewell advice to his disciples: “Be a lamp unto yourself.”

“Some believe in the hierarchy as a means to help the pupil, and maybe in some instances that is good,” he says. “Personally, I am against it. I don’t think that it does any good, and I’ve always asked that no one use the title I have been accorded in the sufi effort. I certainly don’t feel that I deserve any title.”

Titles are only one of the things that can get in the way of someone’s spiritual development these days, said Beorse. With his “tongue of flame” (the meaning of his sufi name Shamcher), Beorse will good-humoredly disassemble any particular concept of the spiritual path one cares to bring up – all in the name of the search for balance.

On spiritual teachers: “Teachers should not tell you what to do. If they do tell you what to do, then they are not teachers. A teacher is one who helps you evolve and awaken your own latent powers of judgment and decision.

“A lot of people need no teacher at all. Rabindranath Tagore said in one of his poems that people told him that he had to go through this gate or that gate or follow this leader to become close to God, but then God had grace on him and led him to Himself without any guide.”

On spiritual practices: “When Inayat Khan first instructed me in some practices, it was in a railway station where he was waiting to take the next train. Everyone sat there and looked at us as if they didn’t even notice. There was no secrecy.

“At that time there was a big superstition among people: The more practices you got, the more important they thought you were. I never thought that. I thought practices were given because there was something wrong with you that you had to correct. So I did the practices conscientiously, but I didn’t feel the least bit proud of them.”

On initiation: “Initiation is as much as the initiated one accepts of the initiation, nothing less and nothing more. Some are afraid that initiation will oblige one to acknowledge one’s membership in a certain order. Initiators may think so, but in that case I feel sorry for them. The only thing that initiation makes is a contact, which may be very important or may be rather unimportant – it all depends.

“For instance, anyone can get in touch with lnayat Khan or his teacher or any of the spiritual beings, but if you are initiated, it is easier, because you have been reminded to them, your name has been told. It may be easier the more sincere you were at the moment of initiation. But once you have had that initiation, no one can take it away from you. It goes beyond lifetimes.”

Beorse’s own early spiritual path took him on what he calls a “wild search” for a teacher through India during his twenties. Born into a Lutheran family in Norway, he had begun to study yoga at an early age and chose engineering as an occupation so that he could travel widely. But he found nothing in India and returned to Oslo determined to forget about the whole thing. At that point he met Inayat Khan, who asked him to translate a lecture that the sufi was going to give.

His meeting with Inayat Khan to prepare for the lecture consisted solely of ten minutes of silence, Beorse recalls. “I thought that since he didn’t want to discuss the lecture, why should I,” he said. “So I came to his lecture, listened to the whole thing, and went up and gave it all in Norwegian without any notes. Normally I wouldn’t have remembered that
much, but there was something in Inayat Khan. He managed to transfer it to my mind so that I was able to repeat it correctly. ”

After that, Beorse knew Inayat Khan for four years before the teacher’s death. Beorse recalls that in a sort of repeat of Buddha’s farewell address, his teacher used the last four hours he spent with his European disciples to warn them about using mediums or psychics instead of relying on their own intuition.

“One of the things he said was that teachers never, never talk to pupils through a medium. If they want to reach their pupils, they talk to them directly,” says Beorse. “Most mediums have no capacity of discrimination; they believe in everything that comes from the other side. I have met so many people who say, ‘Oh, I have direct guidance from the other side!’ Well, the other side is just as full of cheating and nonsense as this side-even more so.

“And do you know, after Inayat had warned us and after he had gone to the other side, four of his closest disciples, with high titles, came to Suresnes (the sufi headquarters in France) and each said, ‘I must tell you that I have been appointed to be the leader of the whole sufi movement – I have been told so by a medium.’”

Even so-called “mystic sciences” such’ as the I Ching, tarot, and astrology can get in the way of developing one’s own intuition and spiritual guidance, says Beorse. And when an intuition does come, it still needs to be discriminated from the mental static that can get mixed in, and doing so is an art that people must learn for themselves. What all teachers and all paths point to is nothing but this self-reliance for communication with the Absolute, which Beorse says Inayat Khan referred to as “faith.”

“Faith, said Inayat, is what makes people venture out in the sea in boats that will hardly carry them. Faith is what makes people shoot down a ski slope and jump into the wild air and not know what will happen. And faith is what brings mystics up to the top of the mountain, where they can see the whole world before them, while scientists dig themselves up along the mountainside and also reach the top,” Beorse says. .

Testing out intuitions, digging one’s way up, is what leads to the true knowledge, enlightenment, or whatever one wants to call it, Beorse says. What is necessary is a balanced life – “in the world, but not of it,” in the words of the Bible.

“There is a trend now in the opposite direction,” he says. “You are supposed to give all this up and just think about your own development or become peaceful before you start working for peace in the world. That is complete nonsense. You don’t get any peace within yourself without working in the world and with the world. We are here for that reason. We weren’t born here to retire into a cave and sit there the rest of our lives. Then you could just as well be on another plane.”

In his long and varied life, Beorse has tackled two of the biggest problems on this plane – energy and employment. As an engineer, he was the first to bring to the U.S. the technology that makes it possible to extract solar energy from the ocean’s waters. Called ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), the system could supply one hundred times as much energy as the world is projected to need in the year 2000. Unlike photovoltaic cells and other solar electric systems, ocean thermal conversion has been ready to put into production at competitive costs for the past several decades, but it has been disregarded while both fossil and nuclear fuels were monopolized for profit.

The OTEC system uses free fuel – the sun’s energy extracted from the temperature difference between the surface and depths of the ocean. There would be no pollution, says Beorse, and millions of jobs would be created worldwide by the production of the plants.

Fortunately, more and more people have begun to listen to him and the few other engineers who have advocated OTEC over the past ten years. In fact, seven major universities have come to conclusions similar to Beorse’s. And the federal government has begun to fund a sea solar project, but apparently at a rate that places it well behind other priorities. At present, the government funds OTEC development for $36 million, fossil fuel development for $903 million, and nuclear power development for $3.4 billion.

“OTEC is much better technically prepared than the nuclear plants,” says Beorse. “But people have a hard time seeing that, since they have worked so hard on the nuclear plants. I talked with a nuclear engineer from Massachusetts who said, ‘I can agree with you that OTEC might be cheaper than nuclear, but it isn’t cheaper now because you have to build new plants. We already have nuclear plants.’”

Under his other hat as economist, Beorse has fought an even larger battle, for insured full employment for everyone. How, after all, can one work in the world if there is no work?
“Employment is a condition for dignity and humanity,” he says. “It is the most cruel and most thoughtless thing in the world to keep even one person unemployed against his or her wish.”

During the Kennedy administration, Beorse met with Arthur Schlesinger, one of the chief presidential advisors, to discuss a plan for full employment based on his work as well as that of economists John Phillip Burnett and John H. G. Pierson. Both Burnett and Pierson have developed ways to finance full employment under a free enterprise system, Beorse says. He and Schlesinger “formed an alliance” on the plan, he recalls, and the aide told him that the President and everyone else would meet to decide on it “as soon as this silly trip to Texas has been completed.” “And that was the end,” says Beorse.

Full employment, he adds, would be the quickest way to cut down on the number of senseless, unfulfilling jobs and give more people a chance for interesting ones, closer to what the Buddhists call “Right Livelihood.”

“There will always be people who are working in jobs that aren’t fulfilling to them. That can’t be helped,” he says, “But full employment can gradually change that, because you could leave a job and get another one. You could say, ‘I quit, because I don’t like this.’ That is what so many businesses are afraid of. And to hell with their fear.”

As an engineer, Beorse himself has held several jobs he would have left sooner but had a family to support. And there weren’t many openings after he passed seventy. Beorse now works as a consultant on sea solar power to the Sea Water Conversion Laboratory of the University of California-Berkeley. He also serves as an advisor to the newly formed Alternative Directions in Energy and Economics in San Francisco.

One thing Beorse consistently refuses to discuss is the future. As his own projects inch closer to fulfillment, as the discoveries of the scientist-engineer begin to parallel those of the mystic, as young people ask him what they should do with their lives, Beorse finds himself besieged with requests for predictions. Not much chance for that, however. With an indeterminate gleam in his eye, he directs one back to Buddha, the farewell address, and one’s own resources.

“We are making the future, we are not predicting it,” he said. “When you predict, you predict on the basis of past experiences, which have no significance anymore.

“Science mainly lives in the area of Isaac Newton-cause and effect. But today’s physicists are beginning to understand that this is just a concept we have. There is no such thing as a fixed or stationary thing. Everything is in constant movement. Not in millionths of a second, but in millionths of a millionth of a millionth. subatomic particles are created out of the void, out of space, and again enter into space. It is the same thing in a small time period that happens in a great time period when God or Brahman or the Universe expresses itself and begets planets and plants and animals and people and spiritual longings, and then contracts again and turns it into nothing in billions of years. And there would be no satisfaction in the work for OTEC or for full employment if it weren’t for the light of this evolution.

“We don’t know whether we will have a stable or an unstable future. We don’t know whether there will be a colossal evolution or even a nuclear war. But it is our damned duty to try to lead the evolution in a sensible way. That is all we can do.”

OTEC Emergency Letter

OCEAN ENERGY

We have a choice between a great many energy sources, many of them cheaper, faster to build and ecologically far superior to any energy system now in use. Several of them are connected with the Oceans. The power of waves have been harnessed in Japan and England. In ten years this power will be operating. England sees half of its energy supply coming from this source. Tide power has been successfully operating at Rance in France for twenty years, now competitive with current power sources economically, and much more benign ecologically. Ocean currents are of themselves promising power sources.

The temperature difference between sun-heated surface water and deeper colder currents is a well developed power source that could be operating in five years if we so decide, and in 15 years could produce enough power to stop all import of oil to the United States. Eventually, this power source alone could produce all the power the world will ever need, with only a modest use of available sites. The Gulf of Mexico, the coast line around Florida, the Pacific along the Mexican shores provide sites for Ocean Thermal Plants. The Sea Solar power, New Orleans shipyards and the Hydronautic Company in Maryland have offered such plants built for $500 per Kilowatt, which is competitive with any existing power system. Other companies have planned titanium heat exchangers and other novelties assuring longer life and less corrosion, so their price is upped to 1800 dollars per Kilowatt — still competitive with more conventional plants when it is remembered that the Ocean “fuel” is free: The ocean itself.

This all does not mean that we “must” build Ocean plants or any other touted device, but it goes to show that we have no “energy crisis” whatever, just an ignorance- or a laziness-crisis.

There are two types of “ready-to-buiId” ocean thermal plants: In the “open cycle plant” the surface water itself is brought to a boil by removing air from the boiler and thus lowering the pressure. There is no heating. The steam runs a turbine running a generator. After that the steam is condensed in a condenser into which cold water is pumped from deeper layers. The condensed water can be tapped as fresh water. In the “closed cycle” the warm surface water heats a working fluid — ammonia or another refrigerant. The refrigerant boils and this vapor runs the turbine, after which it is condensed by cold water pumped from below. Then again this “working fluid” is led into the boiler: A closed cycle. The two types will be suitable for different conditions and requirements. The plants of either type may be built on shore or as ships, in the ocean, anchored or free-moving. The latter type may move according to where maximum thermal difference may be found. This is a type designed by the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University. Newer, not yet fully researched types are foam, mist and hybrid cycle plants, investigated at the Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the University of California at Berkeley.

Ocean thermal plants were first discussed by French, Italian and US engineers and scientists in 1881. In the Twenties, the French engineer George Claude built three plants in Paris, Ougre in Belgium (producing 60 Kilowatts) and in Cuba, producing 22 Kilowatts for 11 days. In 1942, the French government began research of systems and components and designed and partly built a plant in West Africa producing 7500 Kilowatts plus fresh water. In the late Forties, an American engineer studied the French work and caused the National Bureau of Standards and later the University of California at Berkeley to build plants and test them. The oil crisis in the Seventies caused seven major universities and five large firms to join in this work.

Bryn Beorse
Cal Herrmann

(Written in the late 1970’s)

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