SBIR-STTR-Success: Makai Ocean Engineering
Although Makai first made a name for itself as the premier installer of undersea telecommunications cables with its world-renowned MakaiLay products, the Hawaii-based company has been instrumental in harnessing the power of the ocean as well. The U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin and companies around the world have invested in its Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and Seawater Air Conditioning (SWAC) technologies, which have the capacity to power the planet and change the way we look at renewable energy. Makai’s SBIR-derived OTEC technology produces electricity by using the temperature difference between deep cold ocean water and warm tropical surface waters. A reliable power source that doesn’t depend on fleeting weather conditions to operate, OTEC has the resource to produce 4x humanity’s electrical needs.
SWAC uses a naturally occurring cold water reservoir for air conditioning. Cold water is drawn from a lake or ocean through a deep water intake pipe to a cooling station, where the "cold" is transferred to the buildings via a fresh water loop that never mixes with the ocean or lake water. Makai is working on a number of SWAC projects worldwide, including on the early stages of SWAC projects for the U.S. Army and Navy at installations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Leveraging the experience gained in SWAC and OTEC, Makai has designed cooling water intakes for power plants. Makai competed for and won the final design of the seawater cooling intake to serve what will be one of the world’s largest natural gas fired power plants, located in Egypt. Final designs are complete and installation is currently ongoing. Makai has also generated valuable IP related to marine heat exchangers stemming from OTEC research and development work within the SBIR program. The latest applications being pursued for these marine heat exchangers are on DoD ships, underwater vehicles, and aircraft that are seeing increased heat dissipation requirements.