Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


Ocean farming for H2/biofuels coupled with an H2 aircraft concept offers significant SRM implications as well as potential C-neg aviation.



This proposal attempts to synthesize other CoLab proposals from this author concerning ocean farming as well as link that work to an interesting idea, from one of the most distinguished engineers of our time, concerning a rethink of the airframe and take-off/landing methods.

Although most of the information presented may be useful to land based aviation operations, this proposal focuses upon ocean based operations so as to show the broad synergies available in such a combination. 

The aviation industry can be a strong leader in our transition to a new paradigm on many fronts simply due to the industry's energy consumption levels. A breakthrough on that one point could trigger a number of other industries to de-carbon their energy consumption.

Yet one of the most potent aspect of the industry in this effort to de-carbon is its willingness to fund advanced ideas which many other industries typicaly shy away from. We need not just the engineering breakthroughs but also the imagination and courage, which many aviation innovators have shown us over many decades, to actually face these needed changes and make those changes happen.

This proposal explores a multiplexed concept in which off-shore airfields (and connected communities) generate their own fuel, food, water etc. Making the connecting run to land can be through a submerged Hyperloop. The technology this proposal brings to the table is currently available and, as such, this concept can be implemented in the near term future.

In brief, trying to establishing a new large scale land based airfield can be daunting due to a multitude of factors. Yet offshore areas offer a virtually free cornucopia of resources including room for large scale future expansions, low cost production of C-neg fuels, and even raw materials for aircraft construction.

Imagine an airline which can claim carbon credits, reduce its energy overhead, become an environmental leader and avoid land based restrictions on expansion! 

What actions do you propose?

Below is a conceptual sketch of a H2 fueled aircraft by Dr. Steven Salter with an historical and current example of H2 fueled aircraft:

"Can we design a hydrogen fueled aircraft?" (Dr. Salter) 

Dr. Salter proposes the use of diesel powered ground trucks as a replacement to landing gear. Electrical mass drivers are also a reasonable alternative to landing gear. Ocean operations means that 'runway' lengths can be as long as needed. Also, a ground effect version of his design could be used to further reduce energy use over long oceanic hauls.

The ground effect design is limited by the extreme stress and energy needed for takeoff and landings. A long mass driver equipped runway makes those limitations moot. 

Tupolev Tu-155 

Boeing Phantom Eye

Algae derived H2 production methods: 

1) Biological hydrogen production (Algae):

The biological hydrogen production with algae is a method of photobiological water splitting which is done in a closed photobioreactor based on theproduction of hydrogen as a solar fuel by algae.[1][2] Algae produce hydrogen under certain conditions. In 2000 it was discovered that if C. reinhardtiialgae are deprived of sulfur they will switch from the production of oxygen, as in normal photosynthesis, to the production of hydrogen.[3][4]

2) Increased photosystem II stability promotes H2 production in sulfur-deprived Chlamydomonas reinhardtii:

"Photobiological H2 production is an attractive option for renewable solar fuels. Sulfur-deprived cells ofChlamydomonas reinhardtii have been shown to produce hydrogen with the highest efficiency among photobiological systems."

3) Hydrogen production by biological processes: a survey of literature:

"Hydrogen is the fuel of the future mainly due to its high conversion efficiency, recyclability and nonpolluting nature. Biological hydrogen production processes are found to be more environment friendly and less energy intensive as compared to thermochemical and electrochemical processes."

4) Hydrogen Production. Green Algae as a Source of Energy

5) Biological hydrogen production; fundamentals and limiting processes:

"Biological hydrogen production has been known for over a century and research directed at applying this process to a practical means of hydrogen fuel production has been carried out for over a quarter century. The various approaches that have been proposed and investigated are reviewed and critical limiting factors identified."

6) Renewable hydrogen production:

"The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are developing technologies to produce hydrogen from renewable, sustainable sources. A cost goal of $2.00–$3.00 kg−1 of hydrogen has been identified as the range at which delivered hydrogen becomes cost competitive with gasoline for passenger vehicles. Electrolysis of water is a standard commercial technology for producing hydrogen. Using wind and solar resources to produce the electricity for the process creates a renewable system. Biomass-to-hydrogen processes, including gasification, pyrolysis, and fermentation, are less well-developed technologies."

(the above list of is not exhaustive)

Aviation and biofuels in general:

a) "Super Plants" Could Lead to Biofuel Breakthrough"

b) Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group:

All members have signed a Sustainable Pledge, and believe that a key driver to a carbon neutral industry is advancing and adopting sustainable aviation biofuels. This shall significantly reduce life cycle GHG emissions over conventional petroleum based aviation fuels. These fuels:

  • Exhibit minimal impact on biodiversity
  • Meet a sustainability standard with respect to land, water, and energy use
  • Do not displace or compete with food crops
  • Provide a positive socioeconomic impact
  • Do not require any special fuel handling equipment, distribution systems, or changes to engine design



The above information is important on many different levels and can help the general reader understand some of the state-of-the-art science and technology in the biomass-to-energy field. The question of 'What actions do you propose?" is, however, in need of clarification.

Recent developments on the subject of hyperloop technology has opened up a potential near term future large scale biofuel(s) production opportunity. This opportunity is being detailed in another CoLab proposal by this author. Please read:

Adaptation: Marine Hyperloops for Humanity, the Environment, and Profits

"If the EU and the UN decides to create a small working group focused upon creating a proposal for submission to the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, reaching the finals in the competition would have a high probability of success. If that happens, many EU and UN refugee/migration and marine environmental issues can gain significant media attention along with the Hyperloop One effort...if not actually see the EU/UN proposal happen in the near term future!" 

The aviation industry will never be totally eclipsed by hyperloops yet hyperloop technology will significantly erode the base of the industry. As such, it may be best to find ways to couple the use of hyperloops, specifically marine hyperloops, and aviation.

Imagine, if you will, LAX being provided with an offshore satellite field connected by hyperloops. The offshore floating airport can combine the need for buoyancy control with large scale biomass production bioreators as bioreactors can be made to float. This can be achieved through using off-the-shelf components and could even provide biofuel(s), food, freshwater etc. to the main on land LAX complex.

The above scenario is an attempt to use Systems of Systems thinking and thus is not simplistic yet it does have a strong logic to it as the technologies are currently available and many coastal mega airports could potentially use this type of satellite operation and biofuel production means.

The scenario may, moreover, be plausible within the near term future as the production of microalgae derived bio-jet fuel, within the offshore operation, is possible. The current de-carbonization direction of the aviation industry would welcome bio-oil over H2. As such, an offshore field/fuel production effort will most likely opt for bio-oil production.    

Who will take these actions?

I would recommend the formation of a Social Benefit corporation be formed with input from the major carriers. This B corp can effectively provide the actors with carbon credits and great PR.

Where will these actions be taken?

The combination of floating airfields, marine biomass/biofuel production, and aviation can be used world wide and would be especially useful in conjunction with hyperloops to shore. 

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

This is a challenging question which can not be answered in a simplistic way. To properly answer this question will take empirical knowledge of actual working project outputs and parameters. Going strongly carbon negative across the industry is, however, plausible.

What are other key benefits?

Using marine resources for fuel and extent ions of coastal airfields can generate many other benefits on many different levels. This section of the proposal can be better addressed in the finals stage...if the goes there.


What are the proposal’s costs?

I would recommend a target of around $5M to do a detailed STEM study with a $500M production startup fund target.

Time line

With the above budget, and vast amounts of coffee, the study could be completed within 6 months. The production startup completion, envolving an offshore floating airfield and fuel production/storage, can happen within 36 months...with the ability to land a heavy, fuel it and, of course, provide takeoff runway room. The FAA may begin to speak in tongues and paint the wall with pea green soup over such a landing and takeoff scenario, yet from a technical perspective (not a regulatory perspective) this is plausible...if it is done outside US waters!  

Related proposals

Ocean farming related CoLab proposals: 

UN Oceanic Resources Conservation and Adaptation Platforms (O.R.C.A. Cities)

Algae Derived Ethylene Produces HDPE Algal Bioreactors: Repeat If Necessary!

Marine Hyperloops for Humanity, the Environment, and Profits 


Please see the body of the proposal