A robotics company is making manta ray-shaped robots that drown seaweed and lock away the carbon it absorbed throughout its life for hundreds of years in Davy Jones’ Locker.
Seaweed absorbs way more CO2 than rainforests, and billions of tonnes of the stuff are now routinely washing up on the beaches of Mexico every year as a result of changes in the Gulf.
Rather than letting this happen Seaweed Generation has designed the AlgaRay, described as a “Roomba meets Pac-man” which collects the sargassum seaweed and deposits it at depths where the sun can’t reach, and where pressures crush its buoyancy. Unable to photosynthesize energy, it dies and leaves the carbon trapped on the seafloor.
With scientists on the team that have over 100 published studies on the global carbon cycle and climatology, Seaweed Generation believes it’s correct to say that removing carbon from the ocean has the same effect as removing it from the atmosphere since the two are constantly passing gigatonnes of the simple molecule between each other.
“I’m not necessarily passionate about sinking seaweed. I’m passionate about using seaweed for the best possible use case,” Founder Patricia Estridge told The Hustle. “Sargassum is an opportunity to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year.”
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The final robot will be about 32 feet long, function autonomously, and solar powered. But the short-term plan is to deploy around 10 of these to the Gulf of Mexico to get to work ASAP, while the long-term plan is to manage a fleet of 1,000 full-size AlgaRays for corporate partners or governments, which they believe could take care of all the sargassum in the seas.
The company is also pioneering seaweed cultivation robots to remove the cost and risk of cultivating at sea with diesel-engine boats.
Like others, Estridge believes that utilizing seaweed in as many supply chains as possible should be a top priority for the global economy because along with having so many myriad uses, it’s a valuable tool in the fight against climate change.
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