What are we doing?
C.A. Goudey and Associates is developing farm systems and mechanization specifically for the seaweed industry, and building experimental structures that would enable more industrialized deployment and harvesting of kelp farms which can survive open ocean environments. The system includes a towing vessel designed to deploy farming equipment and to transport harvested seaweed, and a rigid catenary array which is currently being deployed at Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts.
Seaweed has been harvested from the wild and used for centuries. In the past 30 years, cultivating seaweeds has become a quickly growing industry in Asia. However, it is very labor intensive, and cultivaton methods are only compatible with calm, intercoastal waters. Robotics can enable us to significantly reduce the cost of operations, enabling utilization of seaweed far beyond salad.
Seaweed does not require land and freshwater resources to supply a growing world with animal feeds, fertilizers, biofuels, bioplastics, and much more. Seaweed doesn't fight gravity like terrestrial plants, and grows remarkebly fast. Seaweed cultivation has the capacity to improve coastal ecosystems, remediating problems of for example acidification and oxygen depletion. For more information, see: ARPA-E_MARINER_Overview.PDF