An under-the-waves industrial revolution is set to happen in a few years. Emerging technology are paving the way for new possibilities in ocean research and use. While these are ideally good, some may disrupt the natural balance down below resulting in new challenges for ocean health.
In this article, you will read about five latest technology that could either save or destroy the oceans.
- Cloud computing under-the-sea
Did you know that data centers use 3% of the global energy use? What if that energy is used elsewhere? Under-the-sea cloud computing cuts down energy use by increasing the cooling efficiency of data centers.
Cold places like Iceland are homes to data centers because of the cold climate. However, there are about 40% of people on Earth live in coastal cities. Under-the-sea cloud computing helps reduce real estate costs, latency and the overall expense of cooling data centers.
Recently, Microsoft has successfully tested a prototype underwater data center off the coast of California. In the future, underwater cloud pods may become equipped with their own energy-generating power plants.
- Harvesting ocean energy
The ocean is a powerhouse of both wave and thermal energy. In fact, wave energy is said to have a technical potential of 11,400 terawatt-hours per year. That amount of energy is equivalent to more than 400 small nuclear power plants!
An example of a technological innovation that aims to harvest the power of waves and tides is a commercial project in Australia, which produces zero-emission desalinated water and electricity. This project is still in its early stages and is yet to overcome the challenge of scaling up and making the task of harvesting ocean energy cost-efficient.
On the other hand, the goal of innovations targeted towards ocean thermal energy is to exploit the difference in temperature between the shallow tropical waters and the deep sea with the end goal of producing electricity. Such an innovation was tested in Hawaii in 2015.
Today, the focus is to create a plant that can accommodate 100 times the capacity as the Hawaii power plant.
Did you know that the deep sea holds so much potential for novel life-saving medications? The fact that the European Union has funded a consortium called PharmaSea tasked to collect and screen biological samples from the oceans. PharmaSea is expected to use deep sea sampling equipment, chemical informatics, genome scanning and data mining. The future of cancer treatments and antibiotics might just be swimming under the sea!
- Coastal sensors
Low-cost sensors promise exploration without oil and chemical spills. They allow efficient and real-time monitoring of coastlines. Using coastal sensors, scientists can gather data regarding ocean acidity, temperature and salinity as effects of climate change. Sonar imaging sensors are also being developed in Australia to detect sharks and push out alerts to protect beachgoers.
- Large-scale ocean mapping
Sophistical algorithms are being developed to process the influx of data coming from large oceangoing ships all at the same time. The data that these ships transmit can be used as bases in establishing usable patterns to detect illegal fishing, promote maritime security and build zoning plans to balance the needs of marine transport, fishermen and ocean conservation. Further, imagery gathered from ships’ safety sensors can be used to analyze habitat changes.
The oceans promote a direct link to humankind’s continued existence. The constant experimentation and development of technology aimed at the oceans will either make or break the watery wonders below.