Oceanographic Team Wins NOAA Funding for Underwater Soundscape Study

Oceanographic Team Wins NOAA Funding for the Autonomous Profiling Float Powered by Ocean’s Temperature Differences to Study Underwater Soundscape

World-class experts from Seatrec, Integral Consulting, Naval Postgraduate School, MBARI, and Scripps/UC San Diego to build a long-endurance float for gathering directional acoustic data in the deep ocean powered by clean, renewable energy.


VISTA, Calif. – WEBWIRE – Wednesday, September 13, 2023

SeatrecIntegral ConsultingMonterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)Naval Postgraduate School, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego today announce funding from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Ocean Exploration. The two-year funding award supports the integration of a commercial, off-the-shelf directional hydrophone manufactured by GeoSpectrum Technologies Inc. onto Seatrec’s newly launched infiniTE™ float to study the ocean’s soundscape.

“Sound is a critical component to understanding the ocean, but the power demands of acoustic sensors make it impossible to listen for extended periods, not to mention the additional power required to process the acoustic data in order to reduce the data size for satellite communication,” points out Dr. Yi Chao, the Founder and CEO of Seatrec. “Seatrec’s newly launched infiniTE™ float, capable of generating electricity from temperature differences in the ocean, opens up vast new areas of knowledge to help us better understand and protect the ocean.”

Studies show that noise from humans adversely affects a broad range of organisms, from shellfish larvae to large marine mammals. Acoustic sensors, or hydrophones, are needed to quantify the impact of these noises; however, current technology limits their use to short deployments from expensive-to-operate ships or to areas where power is supplied via a cable from shore.

“A robust understanding of deep-sea acoustics is invaluable across a range of scientific, environmental, economic, and national security needs,” explains Dr. Kaus Raghukumar, an acoustic oceanographer at Integral Consulting. “The integration of a vector sensor into Seatrec’s profiler will leverage Integral’s NoiseSpotter® technology and expertise. A directional hydrophone allows for a better understanding of the location of sound sources, such as marine mammals.”

Seatrec’s infiniTE™ float provides a new platform for deep-water acoustic observations over unprecedented durations in remote regions.

“As part of NOAA Ocean Exploration’s mission to lead, coordinate, and fund expeditions around the world, we are uniquely situated to promote partners in the maritime community - like this creative team - who can advance ocean exploration technologies and acquire critical data and information about various marine environments,” said Jeremy Weirich, Director of NOAA Ocean Exploration. “Supporting this collaboration to develop and test an innovative sensor on a new underwater platform is important for filling data gaps about our ocean and enabling scientific discovery.”

About Seatrec
Seatrec designs and manufactures oceanic robots and energy harvesting platforms that generate electricity from naturally occurring temperature differences in ocean waters. This renewable energy can power oceanographic research equipment such as floats, gliders, and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), resulting in the most scalable, cost-effective deep ocean data collection possible. Seatrec originated at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology and was incorporated by CEO Dr. Yi Chao in 2016. Learn more about us at www.seatrec.com and follow us on @seatrecinc.

About Integral Consulting
Integral Consulting Inc. is a national science and engineering firm delivering technical solutions to complex environmental, health, economic, and natural resource challenges faced by our clients. We employ an unrelenting commitment to technical excellence, innovation, and collaboration to help our clients minimize yesterday’s impacts, comply with today’s demands, and plan for tomorrow’s needs. For information, visit www.integral-corp.com.

About NOAA Exploration Research
NOAA Ocean Exploration is dedicated to exploring the unknown ocean, unlocking its potential through scientific discovery, technological advancements, partnerships, and data delivery. We are leading national efforts to fill gaps in our basic understanding of the marine environment, providing critical ocean data, information, and awareness needed to strengthen the economy, health, and security of the United States and the world.

Media Contact
Sean Yokomizo
Seatrec, Inc.
+1 925.878.1200

Introducing the infiniTE™ Float

Seatrec Launches infiniTE Float, a First-Of-Its-Kind Modular Platform with “Plug-and-Play” Sensors Powered by the Ocean’s Temperature Differences

Unprecedented flexibility from clean, renewable power greatly expands the use of sensors required for seafloor mapping and soundscape study along with the ability to generate up to 3 profiles per day to unlock improved hurricane rapid-intensification forecasting 


SAN DIEGO (Feb. 14, 2023) – Seatrec, a renewable energy company that harvests energy from temperature differences in the environment, today announces the launch of its infiniTE Float. The first-of-its-kind modular platform features the ability to mix and match an expanded array of power-hungry sensors – some never before supported by autonomous profiling floats – by generating clean, renewable electricity from the ocean’s temperature differences. 

The announcement comes on the opening day of the Oceanology International Americas event in San Diego. 

“Power limitations remain a key challenge to critical ocean research,” explains Yi Chao, Ph.D., the CEO and Founder of Seatrec, who is a panelist at the event’s Ocean Observation and Sensing 1 Session. “Our next-generation infiniTE floats solve that problem in a sustainable way and unlock the future of oceanographic research by facilitating long-term, data-gathering deployments that were previously impossible.”

Seatrec’s pioneering energy harvesting system harnesses temperature differences between the ocean’s various depths to drive the phase change of specific materials. These materials contract and expand creating pressure that’s captured and converted into electricity. The clean, virtually limitless power frees scientists to use sensors that typically require shore-supplied power or direct ship support via tethering. 

The infiniTE float platform’s “plug-and-play” modularity vertically integrates different sensors tailored to particular areas of study. 

Hurricane Forecasting

Better understanding the rapid intensification of major storms and hurricanes is a particularly pressing goal as annual economic losses from such storms are estimated at $54B. Legacy floats typically only profile once every 10 days, which is insufficient to measure the intensification of storms that can surge in as little as 24 hours. Seaterc’s infiniTE™ floats are able to sample as frequently as three times per day providing 30x more data than its competition.

Seafloor Mapping

Only 20% of the global seafloor is mapped by in-water sensors with high resolution and mapping the remaining 80% using ships is estimated to cost as much as $3B. Echosounders are impossible to mount on legacy floats because of power limitations. Seatrec’s power generation technology clears the way for the use of low-cost floats to conduct bathymetry surveys at depth, autonomously, and at a fraction of the cost of using ships. 

Soundscape Monitoring

Studies show that noise from humans adversely affects a broad range of organisms, including marine mammals. Hydrophones are needed to quantify the impact of these noises on marine mammals. Hydrophones mounted on Seatrec’s infiniTE™ floats provide an inexpensive, autonomous platform to gather soundscape data at varying depths for years at a time. 

The launch of the infiniTE™ Float Platform follows on the heels of a notable year of partnerships for Seatrec. The Naval Postgraduate School recently partnered with Seatrec to study the ocean soundscape and chart the impact of noise pollution on Blue Whales by using a hydrophone-equipped infiniTE™ float. Also, Seatrec and The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project signed an MOU to launch Project NEMO (Novel Echosounder to Map the Ocean) to map the gaps of the global seafloor in remote areas where it is too costly for ships to access.

For information about the only cost-effective and sustainable solution on the market, visit www.seatrec.com.

About Seatrec

Seatrec designs and manufactures energy harvesting systems that generate electricity from naturally occurring temperature differences in ocean waters. This renewable energy can be used to power deep water oceanographic research equipment such as floats, gliders, and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), resulting in the most scalable, cost-effective deep ocean data collection possible. Incorporated in 2016 by CEO, Dr. Yi Chao, Seatrec’s technology originated at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, to provide clean power for remote off-grid locations. The company is headquartered in Vista, CA. Visit us at www.seatrec.com and @seatrecinc.


Media Contact

Sean Yokomizo

Seatrec, Inc.


+1 925.878.1200


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