How do you get energy out of an iceberg?

Icebergs as Energy

Icebergs also represent a substantial source of cooling energy.  When a pound of ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit transforms to water at the same temperature, 144 British Thermal Units (BTUs) are released.  Known as the latent heat of fusion, a state change (e.g. solid to liquid) is accompanied by a large transfer of energy. ProvidIce intends to harness and sell the cooling energy in icebergs. 
Consider the following:
The energy transferred when a target iceberg warms from ice at 32 degrees to water at 44 degrees (the temperature of water used for air conditioning) equals approximately $90.0 million in equivalent cooling generated by a coal fired power plant, with no carbon footprint.

There is a direct tradeoff between water and energy, driven by the energy required to transport and process water for its intended purpose. This link is becoming more pronounced as demand for both water and energy rises. Cooling water for power plants, where heat is used to generate electricity, consumes about 20% of all non-agricultural water in the US, according to the United States Geological Survey. It is clear that every bit of water conserved has the added benefit of energy savings and lower carbon emissions. 

About 75% of municipal water cost in the US, is attributable to electrical power needs. 
The California Energy Commission states water-related energy use consumes about 19% of the state’s electricity.

Water and Energy – Changing the Game

ProvidIce intends to commercialize icebergs as a freshwater and energy source by capturing and towing icebergs from Antarctic Polar Regions to “ports of need”.  At these ports PovidIce’s future processing partners will process the icebergs into constituent components: fresh water and thermal cooling energy (“TCE”) in the form of ice slurry.  Once processed, ProvidIce will market and sell both fresh water and TCE.  The Company estimates this sustainable source of fresh water can be commercialized at an estimated ongoing cost of between $800 and $1200 per acre-foot for the water alone, with the following corresponding benefits:

    A highly profitable, proprietary, and sustainable business,
    Highly reliable, since the supply is immune to drought,
    A global improvement in human standards of living, including great improvement to some of the poorest peoples on the planet,
    Improvements in the transparency and liquidity of the global water market, and amelioration of adverse impacts of some local or regional droughts.
    As a byproduct, a substantial volume of pollution free cooling capacity will be produced.
    Water transportation and processing has always been a net consumer of energy. 
    ProvidIce will actually provide potable water and a net surplus of energy

How much energy is in an iceberg?

Iceberg Thermal Cooling Energy

One BTU is defined as the energy associated with a one degree Fahrenheit temperature change in a pound of water.  Further, it takes 144 BTUs of energy in transition from ice to a pound water at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, known as the latent heat of fusion.  Thus, each pound of ice in an iceberg releases156 BTUs of thermal cooling energy in the transition from ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit to water at 44 degrees Fahrenheit.

    In water there are 62.38 pounds per cubic foot.

    A target iceberg contains 4.5 billion cubic feet of water
    (see Technical Data and Calculations)

    A target iceberg contains 281 billion pounds of water

    Each pound releases 156 BTUs

    BTUs of thermal cooling energy in target iceberg transition from ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit to water at 44 degrees Fahrenheit = 4.38 X1013 BTUs of Thermal Cooling Energy

How do we harvest energy from an iceberg?
By running a cold ice water slurry through a heat exchange unit.  The engineers say this is essentially existing technology and is done on small to ultra large projects on a daily basis.

Is energy from an iceberg environmentally friendly?

Anytime  we do anything, it has an environmental effect.  Work to date indicates the relative environmental effect is minimal to benign and can be readily mitigated.  The environmental effects of all other alternatives to secure equivalent amounts of water are far worse.  The environmental effects of doing nothing are worse in terms of human health, death, suffering, and warfare.


Citation for Powerplants and 20%

Colorado River Project, River Report, Summer 2009, Water Education Foundation, www.WaterEductation.org/userfiles/RiverReport_Summer09_web.pdf

Climate Change – Charting a Water Course in an Uncertain Future – Michael Wallis, Michael Ambrose, Clifford Chan, Journal of American Water Works  Association, June 2008

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