Pacific island nations are discussing using a new Japanese technology that can both desalinate seawater for drinking and produce electricity by exploiting the difference in temperatures between the surface of the sea and the depths of the ocean.

The Saga University is preparing to build an experimental power plant off the coast of Palau that brings up cold seawater from the depths of the sea to an evaporator chamber near the ocean surface.

As the water is heated by the surrounding warm surface water, it releases ammonia gas, which then drives the system’s power generator, said Yasuyuki Ikegami, deputy director of the Institute of Ocean Energy at Saga University.

Meanwhile, the heated water would be transferred to a separate low-pressure chamber where it boils at a lower temperature, producing steam, which would be condensed and collected as fresh water for human consumption, leaving salt crystals behind.
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