Ocean energy to power robotic underwater vehicles

(Photo: Seatrec)

Seatrec has completed seed round of financing to further develop a power supply for underwater systems that generates electricity from temperature differences in the ocean, known as the TREC Battery.

Thermal RECharging (TREC) Battery uses a non-toxic material which expands and contracts with changes in temperature, using these changes in volume to generate electrical power.

The patented technology was researched, prototyped and field tested by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and licensed to Seatrec by Caltech.

The recently concluded funding round for continued research, development, and commercialization of the TREC Battery attracted funds from angel investors, and grants from the US Office of Naval Research, Breakout Labs, and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners.

The technology was already trialed for 18 months off the coast of Hawaii, during which a TREC Battery-powered underwater unmanned vehicle (UUV) completed more than 1000 dives, each to a depth of 500 meters (1640 feet) while recording depth, ocean temperature, and salinity, according to Seatrec, a California-based clean energy startup.

Seatrec also informed about its future research and development plans for the next generation of commercial products, which include a high-endurance underwater free-drifting UUV scheduled for sea trials in 2017, an underwater glider in 2018/19, and an underwater charging station for long-range propeller driven UUVs in 2020/21.

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