Project Description

Marine BioEnergy is developing an open ocean cultivation system for macroalgae biomass. The macroalgae, giant kelp, is one of the fastest growing sources of biomass, and the open ocean surface water is an immense, untapped region for growing kelp. However, kelp needs nutrients that are only available below the thermocline or near shore, but not at the surface. The team proposes to build inexpensive underwater drones that will tow long-lines, to which the kelp is attached. These drones will tow the farms from sunlit-rich surface water during the day to nutrient-rich deeper water during the night, and will submerge to avoid storms and passing ships. Working with researchers at the University of Southern California, Marine BioEnergy, Inc has developed and deployed first-of-kind technology to assess this unique concept of depth-cycling kelp. The depth-cycled kelp produced 4x more biomass when compared to the controls located adjacent to a native kelp bed. To replace 10% of liquid fuels currently consumed in the U.S., Marine BioEnergy needs 220,000 square kilometers under cultivation. This is the size of Utah. There is room in the Pacific Ocean for 705 “Utahs.”

View Marine BioEnergy's Meeting Slides


PI: Brian Wilcox;

Team Members

Kelson Marine, Glosten, University of Southern California

Team Video(s)

Additional Information