Robots Power the Quest to Farm Oceans for Biofuel

Victoria D. Doty

At the ARPA-E Strength Innovation Summit back In 2017, we met a enterprise identified as Maritime BioEnergy that was exploring a strategy involving robotic submarines farming the open ocean for kelp to develop carbon-neutral biofuel. The strategy had a large amount going for it: Kelp sucks up carbon as it grows, so any carbon that it later releases into the ambiance is well balanced out as new crops get root. What is extra, kelp can be turned into power-dense liquid gas, for which there is currently a significant distribution infrastructure. And most importantly, kelp grows in the ocean, meaning that we wouldn’t have to fertilize it, give it contemporary h2o, or enable it compete for land house like wind and photo voltaic farms do. 

The tricky little bit with kelp farming is that kelp desires three factors to mature: sunlight, nutrients, and anything to maintain on to. This mix can only be uncovered obviously alongside coastlines, positioning critical constraints on how a great deal kelp you’d be equipped to farm. But Maritime BioEnergy’s plan is to farm kelp out in the open ocean as an alternative, applying robot submarines to cycle the kelp from daytime sunlight to nighttime nutrient-abundant h2o hundreds of meters beneath the floor. Irrespective of whether this depth cycling would actually operate with kelp was the massive open concern, but some current experiments have put that concern to rest.

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