NASA’s has learnt to harness ocean’s thermal energy to drive its new robot. Called SOLO TREC this wax filled buoy requires no battery change and completely relies on renewable energy for its oceanic maneuverings.
Each time the SOLO-TREC travels from colder to warmer depths it extracts thermal energy. This leads to expanding wax sqeezing the oil from the tubes into the float’s interior, where it is stored at high pressure. The oil stored under pressure is released to drive a generator and charge batteries to power pumps that allow the robot to dive and resurface. Each dive generates about 200 watts for 30 seconds. The energy generated also ensures proper functioning of GPS receivers, sensors and transmitters used to beam the data to satellites.
The float has been under use since November 2009 diving to depths of 500 meters. It is bound to give the beneficiaries an edge when it comes to diving under unpredictable weather and climatic conditions.