It has been proposed to use the thermal
gradient of the ocean to drive a heat engine. Suppose that at a
certain location the water temperature is \(22^\circ\)C at the ocean
surface and \(4^{o}\)C at the ocean floor.

What is the maximum possible efficiency of an engine operating
between these two temperatures?

If the engine is to produce 1 GW of electrical power, what
minimum volume of water must be processed every second? Note that
the specific heat capacity of water \(c_p = 4.2\) Jg\(^{-1}\)K\(^{-1}\) and the
density of water is 1 g cm\(^{-3}\), and both are roughly constant
over this temperature range.

At a power plant that produces 1 GW
(\(10^{9} \text{watts}\)) of electricity, the steam turbines take in steam at a
temperature of \(500^{o}C\), and the waste energy is expelled into the
environment at \(20^{o}C\).

What is the maximum possible efficiency of this plant?

Suppose you arrange the power plant to expel its waste energy
into a chilly mountain river at \(15^oC\). Roughly how much money can
you make in a year by installing your improved hardware, if you sell
the additional electricity for 10 cents per kilowatt-hour?

At what rate will the plant expel waste energy into this river?

Assume the river's flow rate is 100 m\(^{3}/\)s. By how much will
the temperature of the river increase?

To avoid this “thermal pollution” of the river the plant could
instead be cooled by evaporation of river water. This is more
expensive, but it is environmentally preferable. At what rate must
the water evaporate? What fraction of the river must be evaporated?