BUBBLE CURTAINS AS HURRICANE PREVENTION
Here´s the dream scenario
It’s 2023. A tropical storm is hooking up and under the Florida peninsula, scraping Cuba as it pinwheels toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Years ago, this storm would have fed on those warm Gulf waters, intensifying into a deadly Category 3 or 4 hurricane before bashing Texas or Louisiana or curving back toward Florida. Not this time.
A fleet of ships patrolling the Gulf has strategically deployed a gauntlet of giant, perforated pipes releasing a powerful hurricane preventative: bubbles.
The tempest crosses this bubbly Gulf and remains a relatively weak tropical storm, maybe even diminishes a little. It still makes landfall, and that’s no picnic, but lives are saved and millions of dollars in damage is prevented.
That’s the plan, anyway, according OceanTherm founder and CEO Olav Hollingsaeter, who has never shaken the televised images of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. The retired Norwegian Navy submarine officer and his small team are now working to develop a system to cool parts of the ocean to weaken or prevent hurricanes.
“This is a global problem and the poorest people are getting the most damage,” Hollingsaeter said. “That’s what motivates us. We are trying to use the Norwegian knowledge to help.”
- Christopher Spata (Tampa Bay Times, 2020)
Cooling the sea surface by exploiting colder water from deeper down in the water column could significantly reduce the strength and in turn the damage of hurricanes. Founded and headquartered in Norway, we are a dedicated and highly competent team working on developing the method and the technology to do so. As our research has shown only promising results so far, we feel an obligation to go the distance needed to test our hypothesis at scale.
WHAT WE DO
Tropical hurricanes are generated when masses of hot and cold air collide above warm ocean water. The hurricanes obtain their energy from the ocean surface when – crucially – the surface water temperature is above 26.5 °C. Cooling the surface water would deprive the hurricanes of their energy source, potentially stopping them before they make landfall, or at least stopping them from developing into stronger hurricanes.
WE STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
It is not a coincidence that this idea was born in Norway. Our competence builds on knowledge spillover effects from our strong history of doing research and development of ocean technology for other purposes. In collaboration with Norwegian and International research environments, we are determined to push the boundaries of what is possible to achieve with the bubble curtain technology.