Navy Explores Seawater Air Conditioning

February 3, 2015 By Linda Hardesty

NavyMakai Ocean Engineering has completed a contract funded by the Office of Naval Research  through the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute to research and develop Seawater Air Conditioning (SWAC) technology. SWAC is a method to provide air conditioning to buildings using a district cooling system that uses an available cold water reservoir as its source.

SWAC can provide air conditioning using about one-tenth of the energy required for conventional air conditioning. The Navy has recently expressed interest in implementing SWAC district cooling systems at island bases using the Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) model.

Makai’s SWAC study produced a software tool that is capable of quickly and accurately assessing the feasibility of a SWAC system anywhere in the world. The cost with the greatest uncertainty for SWAC is often the deep seawater pipeline. Accordingly, the most critical input for any SWAC feasibility or cost analysis is often accurate pipeline construction cost data, according to Makai.

One comment on “Navy Explores Seawater Air Conditioning

  1. Brilliant. I would assume the cooling station that sits between the water source and chilled water consumers would be a heat exchanger?
    To me it seems like a logical solution to an issue that at times could be difficult to overcome. This technology could possibly go a long way in resource management. Significant less electricity use could lead to much less of a demand for electricity generation; hence less fuels, less output of pollution from power plants and increased reliability.
    In Colorado USA I used a kind of opposite technology. I ran ice cold commercial potable water through a heat exchanger to collect the solar heat obtained by a 40 foot long 8 foot high solar collector filled with black tubing, which resulted in preheated water reaching the gas fired hot water heaters. The temperature difference between incoming water to the solar collector and after the heat exchanger going into hot water heater is phenomenal and saves on the tremendous amount of gas required to heat potable water from low 40s F° to a much higher pre water heater input. I hope this cold water A/C project works well, can’t see why it wouldn’t. Interested on watching this technology with great interest.
    Good to see relatively simple technology possibly being affordable.
    Great work! And thank you U.S. Navy for the initiative.

    Steve Soza-Gorham

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