Discovering the Ocean Sustainably

  1. Sustainability Problem (Water/Waste):  Scientists, researchers, and policymakers around the world are eager to learn more about our oceans. They want to know what’s living in the vastness of the deep waters, but also learn to understand and predict climate change effects, pollution levels, and more. In order to study the ocean, there are currently these ‘profiling floats’ spread around the ocean which are “unmanned, robotic data gathering devices that monitor the sea’s physical, chemical and geological characteristics.” In theory, these are great for information gathering, but there structure is lithium powered and are polluting the ocean further. It is estimated that up to a thousand floats have expired and dropped to the ocean floor along with their lithium powered batteries.

2) Technology Summary: Seatrec Floats

These sustainable floats gather vital data about the ocean – while using the water to recharge 

Technology Website

  • Seatrec designed a float that would be powered by the water’s thermal energy to recharged itself instead of lithium batteries making their device powered fully by renewable energy.
  • The floater will be around 1.5 meters and weigh 30kg and uses a wax (Phase Change Material – PCM) that becomes solid in cold temperature and turns into liquid as it gets warmer. The temperature changes from deeper to more shallow depths makes the PCM contract and expand; as it expands it will create pressure and the generator will convert it to electrical energy.
  • In order to manage the creation of energy, the floater will lower itself to deep water, cold temperature and then rise again to the surface where the temperature becomes warmer. The floater will have a flotation device that will inflate and deflate the floater so it sinks and rises accordingly.
  • The technology will not only be a sustainable waste alternative but it will also collect significant data. These floats will be able to monitor the climate, improve hurricane forecasts, and optimize shipping routes – along with helping us understand the ocean better.

3) Organization Stakeholders:

Stakeholders involved with the Seatrec float include research institutions, international government organizations, product manufacturers, and oceanographers/related careers.

4) Implementation

  • Create prototype to be deployed in a pilot case study
  • Vet and compare product manufacturers that will be able to produce in large quantities in a sustainable way maintain mission of technology
  • Partner with research institution and organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to implement Seatrec floats



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