Left to right: Philip Kithil, CEO, and Philip Fullam, Chief Engineer, and Nick Phelps, Design Engineer.

Tapping into Wave Energy

The oceans absorb 30% of atmospheric CO2 and cover 71% of Earth’s surface. For 2.6 billion years, photosynthesis has converted CO2 into phytoplankton, fish food. Ocean-Based Climate Solutions, a Santa Fe, NM startup, converts CO2 to phytoplankton using wave energy.

CEO Philip Kithil initially investigated ocean upwelling — technologies transporting deep, nutrient-rich ocean water from the twilight zone (200 to 1,000 meters deep) to the sunlit surface zone — to bring the cool deep water of the ocean to the surface with a goal to reduce the intensity of hurricanes. After multiple iterations, Ocean-Based decided to develop a technology that mimics nature’s upwelling to stimulate life in lifeless ocean regions.

Ocean nutrients needed to grow fish at the surface are trapped hundreds of meters deep. These nutrients upwell randomly, so fish growth is limited and often not enough to replace the fish caught. Fish populations plummet when too many are caught, and natural reproduction cannot restore ocean health.