a new seabed instrumentation platform monitors subsea environments, powers itself using sea currents
A wide variety of sensors are deployed in the world’s oceans, many at the sea floor, monitoring everything from marine life, water temperature and sediment quality to currents and seabed disturbance. They help us understand what is happening beneath the waves and can warn of threats to human or environmental safety (such as earthquakes or tsunamis, or oil or chemical releases). Typically, seabed sensor nodes are powered either from cable networks or from battery packs that must periodically be retrieved and replaced. SEAformatics of St. John’s, NL has developed an autonomous seabed instrumentation platform with a cost-effective integrated power harvesting system, for uninterrupted monitoring of the subsea and seabed environment.
Deployed at the sea floor, SEAformatics Pods harvest energy from the currents moving around them. To facilitate ocean monitoring from surface vessels or the shore, they can communicate via acoustic network with one another, with other platforms such as AUVs and with the surface. The prototype Pod, developed with funding from Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF), was originally conceived for geotechnical applications such as earthquake detection; however, the system can also be used in other marine science, environmental monitoring, oil & gas and security/defence applications.
Supported by LOOKNorth’s Technology Validation Program, Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development, and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, as well as industry partner Husky Energy, SEAformatics is now conducting a two-year proof-of-concept trial at a Husky nearshore site in Placentia Bay, NL. The project deploy a seabed array of SEAformatics Pods equipped with Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) that deliver real-time data (in the form of 3D profiles of current patterns) to a surface telemetry buoy, and thence to the shore base. If successful in this location, the technology may be deployed at the White Rose oil field to perform long-term 3D current profiling in the vicinity of Husky’s SeaRose Floating Production Storage and Offloading platform on the Grand Banks.
The SEAformatics Project comprised researchers from the Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) faculties of Engineering and Applied Science, Earth Sciences, and Science (Physics and Physical Oceanography) and from the Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Engineering. The SEAformatics Pod project has involved twenty graduate students, providing valuable applied R&D experience early in their careers. The nucleus of the project team, including the project manager, has incorporated to commercialize the technologies.