Groningen Invents A Deep Ocean Nutrient Fertilization Device

We have written about the oceans many times on this blog, about the fact that they are dying from rising temperatures and CO2 in the atmosphere. Dead oceans are the big threat of climate change. Although life on land will suck with higher temperatures, there is no equal to the deadly force of dead oceans : They start to emit toxic gasses due to anaerobic bacteria taking over. Clouds of H2S will waft onto land and H2S is deadly to both plants and animals.

To prevent this from happening we need to revive the oceans. We can do that until it gets to acidic for any life, so we have a window of about 30 years. The main problem is not that life is impossible in the ocean, but that life can not reach the food it needs. Food for ocean life consists of minerals (amongst other things) and those are heavy and sink down out of the  region where the sun penetrates the water. Only where nutrients and sunlight mix can the most important form of life, that of algae and plankton exist.

One of the impractical approaches, which is called ‘rogue’ but worked

Researchers have thought about this and developed plans to pump water out of the deep ocean. One example is the bubble curtain, a curtain of air bubbles that drives deep ocean nutrients to the surface. The importance is described as follows:

Nearly all natural upwelling areas are significant fishing grounds. This is because of the nutritious deep seawater rich in inorganic nutrient salts, such as nitrate, phosphate and silicate [1,2]. These nutrient salts are essential for the growth of plants. Upwelled water from depths below 300 m is cold, clean and rich in nutrients. While upwelling regions account for only 0.1% of the ocean surface, they yield over 40% of the world’s fish catch

Other methods use plastic or steel pipes. Now there is a dutch company that is developing a device masking as a wave energy device, but really it is one big nutrient upwelling station.

The so called ‘oceaan grazer’ or ocean grazer, uses very long pistons to pump water from the deep, and as it does it generates energy for about 80.000 homes.  The tubes go down 200 meters, which is not the ideal depth but still great for recovering sunken nutrients.


It will be quite long before this device sees production, and it is quite complicated and perhaps not the best device to harvest wave energy. We don’t like to say things are promising, because that implies we can take our time. We can’t. This device needs to be build, and if not some other, like the one shown below.

“They turn to the ocean for solutions. Their proposed scheme involves placing vertical pipes some 200 meters long in the sea to pump nutrient-rich water from depth to the surface, thus enhancing the growth of algae in the upper ocean. The algae, which are key in transporting carbon dioxide to the deep sea and producing dimethyl sulphide involved in the formation of sunlight-reflecting clouds, should help to prevent further warming.” (ref)

Microsoft also patented a device that does massive pumping  up of deep ocean water. It uses a power source though, but that could be a wind turbine. It was meant to cool the top of the oceans and thus reduce the power of hurricanes hitting the US.

There is a clear filter of knowledge in our media, and if there are really cool ‘geoengineering’ level solutions we are usually scared away from them or told they are insane (like iron sulfate fertilization, another kind, that clearly works ref). Maybe this is because a global effort to put in place geoengineering devices (other than coal/gas/nuclear power plants) sends a clear signal we have to change our focus to survival instead of increasing fossil consumption (growing the economy).

Floating ocean devices that feed the local waters are also great launching pads for other ocean revitalization efforts (extraeconomically)

You have to watch for companies that pretend to do what they do, but in fact are there to absorb interest and take the wind out of real efforts. The fossil fuel industry and wider market players use every trick in the book, compare it to $115 million fossil lobby to continue to make hundreds of billions annually.

As can be seen from Nature, in 2007 it was also proposed to pump water from 100-200 meters depth, and this is exactly what the people in Groningen will do. Experiments have been done but it proved hard to fund and in some cases the structures involved seemed to have been sabotaged.

We can choose to act and buy ourselves time and a living ocean, or be unrealistic and think that  we will find another way in time. The latter is clearly more reckless.

We wrote about how it was calculated that this type of system could significantly reduce CO2 abd much more importantly : preserve ocean life. In germany this approach has been dismissed on the grounds that once you start you can’t stop. The pumping up of cool deep ocean water cools the atmosphere, which turns out to be beneficial to all life, because it cools the atmosphere. But it warms the water and this means that you need to continue to have these devices or end up in a warmer world. The weakness in this objection is that 1. Why would we stop? and 2. We will end up in a warmer world anyway, so better with an ocean that’s alive and a chance to lose heat over time, than with a dead ocean and no chance.

We would argue that the technology has already been proven. We need to start using it as soon as possible. We also know a way to bring more oxygen into the ocean, and although it is a huge expanse, we need not worry about this, only about reducing CO2. At any rate, this method is no extra burden and pretty automatic.

Open ocean fish farming can clearly benefit form free deep water nutrients..

iron fertilziation company

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