Despite its size and impact on the lives of every organism on Earth, the ocean remains a mystery. More than 80% of the ocean has never been mapped, explored, or even seen by humans. This enormous ocean realm hosts many types of minerals that differ from those occurring terrestrially. It is important to understand these minerals and the role they may play as future mineral resources.
Impossible Sensing, a St. Louis-based deep tech startup, has partnered with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to pioneer a new way to discover cleantech resources on the seafloor. The breakthrough technology, VIPER, brings, for the first time, robotic laboratories to the bottom of the ocean to identify and quantify the location, size, and nature of mineral deposits and biological communities.
Utilizing Impossible Sensing’s space exploration technologies, VIPER will fully map and discover marine minerals in the U.S. exclusive economic zone. It will also provide important information on sensitive habitats and species. These advances will not only mitigate strategic vulnerabilities of the U.S. and support a global shift to clean energy but also document deep-sea biodiversity.
VIPER is the first cost-effective tool that will discover and evaluate marine cleantech resources. “To fulfill its mission, BOEM needs to gather further information on the location and extent of critical minerals on the outer continental shelf,” Mark Leung, Geologist and BOEM’s Office of Strategic Resources, highlights. “Impossible Sensing’s VIPER technology finally breaks the value-cost trade-off by providing us with the tools we need to map the OCS.”
The startup estimates that the 100 square kilometer mineral and environmental surveys can be completed in days, rather than months, without the need to take samples. “This is the type of transformative innovation that BOEM and its partnering agencies require to advance ocean exploration goals,” remarks Leung.
According to Impossible Sensing Founder and CEO Pablo Sobron, VIPER will also help reduce carbon emissions.
“With VIPER, we are turning our space exploration innovations into game-changing cleantech solutions that will bring seafloor mineral resources to market sustainably and at the speed that rapid decarbonization requires. Because VIPER is so scalable and transformative, it will contribute to a green recovery by aiding in the acceleration of the electrification of transportation and other industries.”