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Kuroshio Science 6-1, 101-113, 2012

Novel Renewable Natural Resource of Deep Ocean Water (DOW)

and Their Current and Future Practical Applications Masayuki Mac Takahashi1* and Ping-Yi Huang2

1 Asia-Pacific Ocean Research Center, National Sun-Yatsen University, 70 Lien-hai Rd., Kaohsiung, Taiwan 80424, R. O. C.

2 Stone & Resource Industry R & D Center, No.534, Sec. 1, Nanbin Road, Guanghua Jian, Hualien, Taiwan 97356, R.O.C.


Deep ocean water (DOW) contains a large stock of renewable natural resources, and is unique in having multiple essential resources such as energy, fertilizers, water, salts, metals and minerals. However, low concentrations of most resources, a high construction cost for the pumping system to obtain DOW and limited access to DOW pumping locations have discouraged actual attempts to obtain DOW. Recent developments in technology and practical applications of the DOW resources carried out in USA (Hawaii), Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have been included the followings: low temperature energy for generating electricity by ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), cooling electric power generators, air-conditioning, holding and handling fish and shell-fish, cold aquaculture and cold agriculture, inorganic nutrients for the culture of seaweed and phytoplankton, ocean fertilization, freshwater, salts, minerals, and metals, among others.

Key words: Renewable resource, deep ocean water, DOW, practical application, energy, freshwater, fertilizers, metals, minerals

1. Introduction

One of the urgent subjects which we are now confronting in the world is an increase or is a maintenance of the sustainability of our society while looking towards the future. The Natural Step (one international NGO) has proposed four system conditions in order to keep up the sustainability of society, and the first two are not to increase con- centrations of substances extracted from the earth's crust, or to increase man-made products (http:// www. naturalstep. org/ the- sys tem-conditions, Considering as how presently our society is supported by many natural resources obtained from the earth's crust, we have to replace those with renewable resources.

Deep ocean water (DOW) is one of the most promising and unique renewable resources for the

future as it contains energy as well as various essential materials. A severe hurdle for DOW app- lications is DOW's low resource concentration. However, it is quite possible to make this low con- centration useful in the future as microorganisms and plants are capable of absorbing materials efficiently even at extremely low concentrations, and our knowledge and technology for utilizing such low concentration of resources has now been

improved to a high degree.

In the late 19 century, DOW resources attracted

the attention of a French physicist, Dr. J. A. d'Ars- onval, as energy for generating electricity by ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) (Takahashi 2000). During nearly 80 years of research in OTEC, we have come to recognize that DOW contains a great variety of resources in addition to its low temperature, and have investigated them further

*Corresponding author: e-mail


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