Seatrec Secures Seed Financing for Ocean Energy Harvesting Tech

January 24, 2020 by Paul Shepard

Seatrec, a renewable energy startup that harvests energy from temperature differences in the environment, today announced it has raised $970,000 in seed round financing led by Pasadena Angels with participation from Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) Impact Fund, Tech Coast Angels, and other strategic individuals.

Seatrec is currently developing a thermal engine for use on several types of autonomous underwater gliders (image above).  The modular system will be capable of retrofit to existing vehicles with minimal changes to existing vehicle architecture or sensor payload, and will dramatically increase endurance while decreasing operations and maintenance costs.

SLG underwater glider thermal engine preliminary specifications:

  • Length - 183 cm (approximate)
  • Weight (air) - TBD
  • Weight (submerged) - neutrally buoyant
  • Max Operating Depth - 1000 m
  • Energy Generation - 20 kJ per cycle (approximate)

SL1 profiling float thermal engine

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Seatrec's first product, the SL1 thermal engine harvests energy from the temperature difference between warm ocean surface water and cooler water at depth.  This energy is made available to increase float endurance, enable more rapid profiling, or to power energy-intensive sensors such as those used for biogeochemical and acoustical studies.  Multiple SL1 units can be attached to increase energy generation.  A system rated to depths of 2000 m is under development.

SL1 profiling float thermal engine specifications:

  • Length - 153.7 cm
  • Diameter - 17.3 cm
  • Weight (air) - 30.2 kg
  • Weight (submerged) - neutrally buoyant
  • Max Operating Depth - 1000 m
  • Energy Generation - 8 kJ (2.2 Wh) per cycle

John Yoon from Pasadena Angels will join the Board of Directors as an observer. With the new seed funding, Seatrec plans to expand its engineering and operating teams to increase sales, accelerate the product development, and support government-sponsored activities.

Oceans remain one of the great mysteries of our planet — more than two-thirds of the earth is ocean, but only less than 10 percent of the ocean floor has been mapped. Humans rely on oceans not just for food supply, but because of the profound impact they have on our climate and overall health of the planet.

Ocean data provides critical insights into weather and climate patterns and illustrates the impact of human activities like seafloor mining, aquaculture and pollution. Additionally, powering the equipment required to gather data at the depths of the ocean has been a limiting factor.

Seatrec is the first company to produce a portable power system harvesting energy from naturally occurring temperature differentials underwater. Its patented thermal energy harvesting technology provides infinite power for oceanographic equipment, including floats and gliders. With Seatrec's technology, researchers can extend the life of the equipment, power more sensors, and enable faster data collection at reduced cost with zero emissions and waste. The advent of unmanned aquatic drones in emerging bluetech industries will also require additional clean power supply, which Seatrec provides.

"We are at a critical juncture in understanding the importance of the ocean for the overall health of the planet, but research and development has been limited to date by the unique challenge of powering oceanographic equipment underwater," said Dr. Yi Chao, founder and CEO of Seatrec. "Seatrec's technology makes it possible to harvest infinite, clean energy to power new hardware technologies and capture data more persistently to better inform our understanding of climate variability, the impact of seafloor mining, and microplastics in the oceans."

"Pasadena Angels is thrilled to invest in Seatrec, an emerging startup in the bluetech economy," said Yoon. "The ‘Ocean of Things' is one of the most exciting and critically important areas for innovation, and we expect to see a rapid increase in new businesses focused on different aspects of the ocean. Seatrec has already demonstrated that it can reliably provide the clean power required to support this expected growth."

"The need to accelerate action on climate change is greater than ever, which is why Seatrec is one of the first investments in our LACI Impact Fund," said Matt Petersen, President and CEO of LACI. "Seatrec's commitment to providing renewable energy to power the devices researchers use to study our oceans and companies use in marine environments is a key piece in protecting our planet."