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The expanding vapor turns the turbo-generator. Then, cold, deep seawater—pumped through a second heat exchanger—condenses the vapour back into a liquid, which is then recycled through the system.

Open-Cycle:

Open-cycle OTEC uses the tropical oceans’ warm surface water to make electricity. When warm sea water is placed in a low-pressure container, it boils. The expanding steam drives a low-pressure turbine attached to an electrical generator.

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The steam, which has left its salt and contaminants behind in the low-pressure container, is pure fresh water. It is condensed back into a liquid by exposure to cold temperatures from deep-ocean water. This method has the advantage of producing desalinization fresh water, suitable for drinking water or irrigation.

Hybrid:

A hybrid cycle combines the features of both the closed-cycle and open-cycle systems. In a hybrid OTEC system, warm sea water enters a vacuum chamber where it is flash-evaporated into steam, similar to the open-cycle evaporation process.

The steam vapourizes the ammonia working fluid of a closed-cycle loop on the other side of an ammonia vapourizer. The vapourized fluid then drives a turbine to produce electricity. The steam condenses within the heat exchanger and provides desalinization fresh water.

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