Seatrec Quarterly Deep Dive

3 min readOct 16, 2020

Autumn 2020

As we enter autumn, it feels like COVID has warped our sense of time, sucking the bliss out of each successive season, and blending the usual fun into one long stretch of quarantine and carryout. Add heatwaves, fires, and an unusually active hurricane season, and most will agree this past summer may not have been our best. But there still were some distinct, memorable summer oceanographic highlights. (Not to mention Discovery Channel nobly went ahead with Shark Week.) In this quarter’s Deep Dive, we’ll feature the latest from Seatrec and other ocean news — including seismic discoveries.

🌊What’s Happening at Seatrec

During the summer, we managed to transcend the heat and lousy AQI and gained significant momentum. We entered new partnerships, made media waves, grew our product offerings, expanded our team, and even launched our cool new website.


Seatrec and Northrop Grumman received a Phase II SBIR grant from DARPA for commercializing fast-diving, autonomous robots powered by aluminum fuel. We are developing a profiling float that can dive to 1000 meters at 1 meter per second — 10x faster than the current state-of-the-art.

In another collaboration with Northrop Grumman, we won our second Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize, sponsored by the Department of Energy and NOAA (news on our first prize is here.) This prize was awarded for the Mission Unlimited UUV Station — an underwater charging station to power and transfer data from unmanned underwater vehicles. We’re now progressing to the next phase of the competition — developing a functioning design of our UUV station concept.

We‘re super thrilled to have been selected as one of the 20 bluetech and greentech startups in the Launch Alaska Tech Development Cohort for 2020.

📰 Making Media Waves

Our CEO and Founder, Yi Chao (aka, “The Armchair Oceanographer”), was interviewed by Jeremy Hsu in IEEE Spectrum on the challenges of recharging ocean floats and gliders at sea.

Also, we were featured in the Los Angeles Business Journal article, Cleantech Companies Ride the Sustainable Investing Wave in LA.

Lastly, we also hit the radio waves! Our Senior Engineer, Michael Zedelmair, joined Yi in an interview on Ocean Science Radio. Tune in to our interview with inquisitive aquanauts:

➕ Product and Team Additions

Following our successful trial of twin SL-1s in February, we are now working with Sea-Bird Scientific to ship biogeochemical (BGC) profiling floats to provide our energy harvesting solutions to ocean researchers seeking to use more robust sensors.

And we’re growing! Welcome, Richard Lopez (Head of Finance) and Marta Bulaich (Head of Marketing).

🌡️ Shaking Up Climate Science

Climate change calculations just got a bump from a Caltech seismologist, Wenbo Wu, who introduced seismic ocean thermometry — a means of measuring the ocean’s temperature using sound waves from undersea earthquakes.

↕️ Environmentally Up and Down

New research using data from ESA, NASA, and NOAA satellites suggest that the ocean is a powerful carbon sink, capturing more carbon than previously estimated. While this bodes well for the environment, other challenges such as ocean acidification and rising sea levels are stratifying our oceans, with upper layers getting much hotter than the lower ones. This “layer cake” effect is causing great concern.


Awareness of the importance of our oceans is getting the momentum it deserves. As hurricanes increase in number and climate change continues to adversely impact marine life, this will be a pivotal decade for oceanic research and conservation. We are inspired by citizen-led initiatives, scientific discovery, emerging technologies, and the increase in blue and greentech investment. The tides are changing. May we enjoy the beauty of seasonal transitions and a healthy surge in our blue economy.

Yours from at least a fathom away,

Team Seatrec


Infinite energy from the ocean. Makers of thermal energy harvesting systems that generate electricity from the thermocline to power floats and gliders.