WPI - Water and Power from Icebergs

20 questions that we asked Georges Mougin and François Mauviel:

1. Who do icebergs belong to? Can anyone exploit them freely?
Within territorial waters they are under the state juridiction.
In high seas they are « rex nullius » and could become like a wreck, property of the entity which get control of it.

2. Can your project work only with tabular icebergs?  Or would it work with icebergs of another shape?
Tabular icebergs present a uniform draft, shape is regular and ratio of total area to the volume is optimum, for all these reasons iceberg transfert and exploitation is feasible pratically only with tabular icebergs.

3. How easy and where can we find tabular icebergs?
In the arctic tabular icebergs are yielded by north Greenland inlandsis they drift between Greenland and Labrador down to the East of Newfoundland. In the antarctic pratically all icebergs are tabular being fragments of iceshelf, they are concentrated near the Mer de Weddell, in the south of the Atlantic océan.

4. What about the possible ecological risks related to exploiting icebergs: water see level rise? Calving of the inlandsis?
It is the calving of the inlandsis through icebergs which could raise water level (if the balance of snow accumulation on it is less). Melting of floating icebergs cannot change water level. Ice-floe (or banquise) is sea-ice not related to icebergs.

5. What about the possible risk of overexploitation of icebergs?
The amount of iceberg released is such (300 to 500 billions tonnes yearly) that there is no risk of overexploitation. Transfert of a few thousandth only could be foreseen.

6. What if a herd of seals or a white bear lives on the iceberg selected as the best candidate?
Freeboard of an iceberg, 10 to 20 meters does not allow seals to stay on it, white bears feed themself on the ice-floe.

7. Why don’t you exploit the icebergs on-site and build a dedicated floating factory to that effect, rather than towing them?
1st reason: there is no energy available on iceberg natural sites for their melting.
2nd reason:  iceberg transfert is far cheaper that shipping by tankers, a small arctic iceberg of 10 millions tonns would require the capacity of 50 to 100 large tankers!

8. What are the possible destinations where we can imagine towing icebergs to?
According to prevailing winds and currents, earth rotation, practical destinations of iceberg transfert are the west coasts of the continents like for instance Maroco, Namibia for Africa, western and south Australia, Chili, Perou California.

9. Are there any risks to see the iceberg break off during the transfer? How to avoid such a thing?
Risk of fracture is minimal, airborn radiosounding for iceberg selection eliminate those prone to fracturation.

10. Are there any risks for the seine of the skirt to tear off during the transfer? How to avoid such a thing? 
Risk of net or skirt tearing is minimal, there is no vibration or chock and these materials and the towing line have a natural elasticity.

11. The iceberg convoy will sail across many miscellaneous ecosystems along its route. What are the impacts on the local plankton and other fish species that might be sensitive to thermal variation?
Size of iceberg is very small relatively to the sea around it and a related ecosystem, impact will be negligible.

12. What if the convoy sails across an oil slick?
Oil remain on the surface, encounter with some will only pollute the protective belt on the floating line whitout sequel to the berg.

13. What if a damaged ship blocks the route initially selected for the convoy?
Obstacles will be dedected by radar ten of miles in advance, the very slow speed of the transfert leave plenty of time to sligthly alter the route for avoiding them.

14. Do you plan to anchor the iceberg on the exploitation site, or to use moorings?
Mooring or anchoring of iceberg will use the belt and carried out like for an oil offshore platform.

15. Do you need a specific authorization to bring an iceberg into areas such as the Canary Islands?
Before beginning a transfert the precise destination will have been agreed upon, and mooring facities being prepared.

16. What are the consequences of bringing an iceberg in an geographical area where you usually don’t see icebergs? On the wildlife and flora? On the local climate? Will it not generate a fog above the iceberg?
Size of the iceberg relatively to the sea around it makes alteration to the fauna and the climate negligible, fog if so, limited to the top of the iceberg will be quickly dissipated outside.

17. By which process do you plan exploiting the iceberg at the arrival site?
Exploitation procedures depends of the use of the iceberg: complete use would be energy production, cooling for airconditionning and finally soft water for consumption. Latent heat being an essential value of iceberg’ ice. For energy production a slurry of crushed ice is produced in a pond created on top by insulated edges , ice latent heat is absorbed in the condenser of the thermal process (same that an OTEC plant), water at low temperature feed then the exchanger of an airconditionning system ,the released water being piped to the consumption. Without power plant direct production of water is achieved by the natural melting of iceberg slices wraped in watertight bag, melting being provided by the surrounded sea water.

18. How can you be sure about the purity of iceberg water?
Water purity results of the ice made of snow accumulated since thousand of years. Contemporary pollution, if so would be limited to the surface and eliminated by the melting.

19. What yearly water consumption would represent a 7-million ton iceberg?
7 millions tonnes of ice or watercould represent the yearly domestic consumption of 35000 persons.

20. Don’t you think that towing icebergs is a bit like playing God?
Naturally all icebergs melt; Their transfert change only the site of this melting where the fresh water produced is used before to be ultimately rejected to the sea.

WPI - Water and Power from Icebergs

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