Recharging Ocean Drones with Renewable Energy

Check out the interview with our CEO and Founder, Dr. Yi Chao, with Jeremy Hsu in IEEE Spectrum. In the interview, Yi talks about how Seatrec uses thermal energy harvesting to recharge ocean floats and gliders with renewable energy generated by ocean temperature differences. A summary is below. Click here for the full article. 

Thermal Energy Harvesting

Today, most floats are treated as disposable devices due to power and financial challenges. Power challenges arise because the lithium-ion battery energy is limited. Once the battery dies, the float and accompanying potentially toxic battery drop to the bottom of the ocean. Financial limitations are in play because oceanographers lack the funding to deploy ships to retrieve these derelict floats. Yi’s goal is to leverage Seatrec’s thermal energy harvesting systems to eliminate toxic battery disposal. Additionally, with our technology, we can improve the durability of ocean drones and improve the data collection and frequency of profiling.

Underwater Charging Station for UUVs

Seatrec is collaborating with defense giant Northrop Grumman to develop an underwater recharging station for ocean robots. Northrop has created a self-insulating electrical connector capable of operating while the powered electrical contacts are submerged. Seatrec and Northrop won a $10,000 prize under the Powering the Blue Economy: Ocean Observing Prize administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and NOAA to develop this technology.

Yi is most excited about collecting as much oceanographic data as possible and exploring other blue economy ventures such as aquaculture (underwater farms) and other subsurface applications.

 

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