Argo floats measure ocean temperatures. But they have a big problem: limited battery life. CGTN’s Phil Lavelle talked with the founder of a company that is creating batteries to address the problem.
“Argo floats today use primary batteries. As [the] batteries run out, the floats become a waste in the ocean,” Seatrec founder Yi Chao said.
Yi Chao’s startup, Seatrec, thinks it’s solved that problem.
Seatrec battery packs charge themselves. Changes in water temperature cause the batteries to expand and contract. This generates electric power.
When an Argo’s battery dies, the whole Argo is left to sit on the ocean floor. Retrieving it is too expensive.
“Potentially, they are toxic, they are harmful. If they end up near the beach, in the ecosystem, near the coral, they can damage the local system,” Yi Chao said.
There are around 4000 active Argos in the world’s waters right now.
They help predict extreme weather events from hurricanes to heatwaves.
Countries from around the world contribute them. The U.S gives the most.
And now China’s snapped up Seatrec’s battery technology for its Argos.
“We have two early adopters, early customers from China. The first customer, from Guangzhou, they are part of the Chinese Academy of Science: South China Sea Research Institute. Second customer from Hangzhou, they are part of the State Ocean Graphic Bureau, the Chinese partner of NOAA and they are going to take our floats and demonstrate the capability of this new energy system,” Yi Chao said.