Arctic Research Center Switches To Seawater for Heating, Dumps Fossil Fuels

The Alaska SeaLife center is saving approximately $15,000 per month by using seawater for their energy needs instead of fossil fuels.

Credit: alaskatrain.com

Credit: alaskatrain.com

Thanks to a specialized heat pump system, the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) in Seward was able to switch from using fossil fuels to seawater for their heating needs. Not only will this save them roughly $15,000 a month, it will also considerably reduce their output of carbon dioxide and benefit the environment.

The machine mixes the seawater with glycol before they inject it with liquid carbon dioxide. This results to CO2 vapor to be released that the system compresses and heats, allowing it to boil and making it hot enough to be pumped throughout the entire research center. This process enables the entire facility to be warm as a result.

According to Tara Riemer, the President and CEO of ASLC, their newly-developed system is ”doubly important” with them being a mission-driven non-profit organization.

”We are benefiting the environment and saving money at a time when both are very critical,” Riemer mused.

This new heat pump system was developed by engineer Andy Baker, who has always been an advocate of alternative energy sources that will be good for the planet. While he acknowledges that the machine is too big and expensive to be practical for households to take advantage of, he is certain that the technology could one day be an affordable alternative for every home.

Back in October 2015, Andy Baker had the opportunity to expound on his push for alternative energy sources. When asked about the challenges an individual can face in adopting this kind of change, he stressed that while the investment is expensive, the motivator is control – the notion that people would no longer be dependent on heating oil companies.

‘Upfront costs, capital costs. We’re talking about pay back for a design life typically of 25 years [for ocean-source heat], for ground source maybe 50 years. So we’re talking about higher upfront costs and payback times in excess of ten years, maybe twenty years, so the upfront cost is going to be higher,” Andy Baker said. ‘‘The real motivator for people is control. It’s the idea that you don’t have to depend on the heating-oil company for deliveries.”

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