At the ARPA-E Electricity Innovation Summit back In 2017, we satisfied a firm named Maritime BioEnergy that was exploring a principle involving robotic submarines farming the open up ocean for kelp to build carbon-neutral biofuel. The principle experienced a ton going for it: Kelp sucks up carbon as it grows, so any carbon that it later on releases into the atmosphere is balanced out as new vegetation choose root. What is far more, kelp can be turned into power-dense liquid fuel, for which there is presently a substantial distribution infrastructure. And most importantly, kelp grows in the ocean, which means that we wouldn’t have to fertilize it, give it refreshing water, or permit it contend for land place like wind and solar farms do.
The challenging little bit with kelp farming is that kelp needs 3 issues to increase: sunlight, vitamins, and a little something to maintain on to. This mixture can only be discovered naturally together coastlines, inserting severe limits on how considerably kelp you’d be able to farm. But Maritime BioEnergy’s concept is to farm kelp out in the open up ocean as an alternative, working with robotic submarines to cycle the kelp from daytime sunlight to nighttime nutrient-prosperous water hundreds of meters beneath the floor. No matter whether this depth biking would actually get the job done with kelp was the big open up problem, but some latest experiments have place that problem to relaxation.