How do you build a seastead that is comfortable and safe in all sea conditions, yet is economical to build? This is
one of the biggest questions The Seasteading Institute’s engineering program seeks to answer.
Based on our research, we believe that many seasteading needs can be met with off-the-shelf technology. For example, we are not currently trying to innovate in areas such as water distillation or sanitation
services, since solutions have already been widely implemented in the shipping and cruise industries.
Our primary focus is on basic structure design
Seasteads should be:
able to survive a heavy storm
affordable to people with average incomes for developed nations
able to comfortably house an average family under most sea conditions
easily expandable as the population grows, allowing sections to join, separate and reconnect at will
To satisfy these four criteria, we are combining engineering principles that have been proven in other industries with the unique demands of seasteading. For example, our proof-of-concept “Clubstead” design draws upon well-established technologies from cruise ships, oil platforms and bridges.
Medical Offshore Research Facility: Feasibility and Conceptual Design Study
(University of Houston Extreme Environment Design Team, with guidance from George Petrie) - These storyboards (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5) lay out a concept for a three-phase project, intended to culminate in the creation of a purpose-built semi-submersible floating community, offering an innovative cancer treatment not yet approved by United States regulators, along with a broad range of other facilities for researchers, staff, patients, full-time residents and vacationers. The students also produced a video with 3D renderings of what such a platform might look like, which can be viewed on YouTube.
Visual Renderings of Modular Seastead Design
(Lina Suarez, Engineering Intern) – 3D renderings were produced to conceptualize a modular, adaptable seastead, complete with a top-side crane mechanism for rearranging “modules” or residential units. The ability to easily enter or exit such a seastead configuration (i.e., “voting with your house”) is expected to enable greater freedom of choice and amplify the competitive pressures needed to spur governmental innovation. Lina Suarez, a student of Naval Architecture, produced the renderings under the guidance of our Director of Engineering, George Petrie.
Seasteading Energy Study: Evaluation of Sustainable Energy Options for a Small City-on-the-Sea
(Melissa Roth, George Petrie, and Dr. Ronald Willey) - The purpose of this document is to estimate and compare the energy costs in USD/kW and installation cost for ocean thermal energy conversion, solar, wind, and wave systems. Diesel generators were used as a baseline comparison. While it is not yet possible to design a specific seastead, the goal is to determine the feasibility of utilizing the aforementioned renewable energy sources on a seastead housing up to 1,000 people.
Parametric Analysis of Candidate Configurations for Early Seastead Platforms: Parts 1 & 2
(George L. Petrie, Director of Engineering, The Seasteading Institute, retired Professor of Naval Architecture) – This engineering analysis systematically evaluates several different seastead configurations (in a range of sizes) and to quantify their cost, capacity and performance, with emphasis on early seastead communities (as opposed to large future cities at sea).
Seasteading Location Study: Ship-Based and Large-Scale City Scenarios
(Shanee Stopnitzky, James Hogan, George Petrie, Elie Amar, Dario Mutabdzija, Max Marty and Rafa Gutierrez) – To determine the most promising locations for seastead communities, The Seasteading Institute has evaluated the entire ocean, based on a comprehensive set of criteria related to environmental, economic, legal and political considerations. Data sets for each criterion are presented in the form of color-coded heat maps depicting the desirability of possible locations for two different seastead scenarios: a small, ship-based seastead, and a large “Metropolistead,” or full-fledged city on the ocean. High resolution maps of the individual criteria, as well as aggregated maps, can be viewed here.
Seasteading Engineering Report: Floating Breakwater and Wave Power Generators
(Elie Amar and Jorge Suarez) – A breakwater is typically a pile of heavy materials that form an artificial barrier against the waves. Given the force of the waves hitting such a large structure, it makes sense to explore designs for breakwater that generate energy from the waves being blocked. This report is a survey of the breakwater and wave energy technologies currently developed or patented. A slide presentation of the report is available here (m4v video).
Engineering Development Plan: 2012 to 2017
(George L. Petrie, Director of Engineering, The Seasteading Institute, retired Professor of Naval Architecture) – This engineering development plan is intended to look beyond the ‘first generation’ seasteads, anticipating the needs of a second generation and beyond; a time when there will be greater confidence in the economic viability of seasteading, and less uncertainty about the important legal and political issues. It will be a time when the question is no longer “can we do it?” but rather “how can we do it the best way?” It will be a time when seasteads are designed and built for their intended purpose, where they can achieve levels of accommodation, safety, efficiency, and sustainability that are necessary for large-scale permanent communities on the high seas. This plan attempts to address issues that are central to the requirements of seasteading; matters of sustainability, longevity, scalability and comfortable, affordable habitability on the open ocean for extended periods of time. In the not-too-distant future, when questions arise about “how can we do seasteading in the best way,” we hope to have some good answers.
Establishing Offshore Autonomous Communities: Current Choices and Their Proposed Evolution
(Miguel Lamas Pardo) – This dissertation was presented as a requirement to obtain a Doctoral Degree in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering. The objective is to provide an orderly framework around the idea of ocean colonization, defined as “the establishment of autonomous communities in the oceans aboard artificial platforms.” Additionally, it distinguishes four forms of ocean colonization for distinct purposes: 1) to expand landholdings; 2) to provide mobile settlements; 3) to allow for semi-permanent mobile settlements in order to access marine resources; 4) and for the creation of micronations. It is this fourth concept that will serve as a departing point to review the whole idea of oceanic colonization.
Seastead Location Study: Criteria
(Miguel Lamas Pardo, Luis Manuel Carral Cuece) – This paper considers the structures currently used in the
maritime and ocean industries to accommodate people in semi-permanent accommodation at sea: floating hotels,
Offshore and Coastal Floating Hotels: Flotels
(Miguel Lamas Pardo, Luis Manuel Carral Cuece) – This report lays out our criteria for judging potential seastead locations.
Seastead Engineering Report: Assumptions and Methodology
(Eelco Hoogendoorn) – This report lays out our criteria for judging new seastead designs.
Feasibility and Design of the Clubstead: A Cable-Stayed Floating Structure for Offshore Dwellings
(Alexia Aubault, Wendy Sitler-Roddier, Dominique Roddier, Patri Friedman, Wayne Gramlich) – An overview of a plan for a 200-guest hotel/resort, built to withstand the waves 200 nautical miles off the coast of Los Angeles.
Presentation PDF - Proceedings of the ASME 2010 29th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, OMAE2010, June 6-11, 2010, Shanghai, China.
ClubStead Design Page – This detailed page contains of the papers and results from the ClubStead study.
Continue investigations into long-term challenges for city-sized seasteads such as floating breakwaters and wave energy sources
Investigate station-keeping options such as mooring, dynamic positioning and related technologies
Evaluate costs of construction and maintenance of various seastead platform options
Investigate costs of outfitting ships, barges, and platforms with renewable energies such as wind, solar and OTEC
Investigate costs to create modular designs for ships, barges and platforms, such that a container could be built to fit the needs of a resident or business on land and then transported to, and placed on a vessel
State of the Art of Oceanic Industry for the Establishment of Autonomous Ocean Communities (Miguel Lamas Pardo, Luis Manuel Carral Cuece, Patri Friedman), 49th Congress of Naval Architecture and Maritime
Industry “Oceanic Industry, Sustainability,Technology and Innovation”, Bilbao (Spain), October 21 and 22, 2010.
This paper surveys the economic, legal, and engineering challenges for a variety of proposed seastead
architectures. Includes discussion of flotels, VLFS (Very Large Floating Structures), and residential cruise
ships, as well as previous attempts to build ocean communities.
Seasteading and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Classification Societies
(Miguel Lamas Pardo) – This paper provides an overview of the international maritime regulations that govern the
seaworthiness of vessels.
We are seeking highly motivated volunteer researchers in all fields relevant to seasteading. If you have knowledge or experience in engineering and are looking for a topic, our past research and five year engineering development plan are good sources for inspiration. You can always email our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Qualified applicants should apply with a brief proposal, along with a resume or description of any relevant background or experience. Student independent study and internship projects are encouraged and can be accommodated. See our Students page for more information.
The main research page has more information on our overarching objectives, as well as alternative project formats to research. Examples of future engineering research topics include:
- • What hull materials and methods of fabrication are best-suited for large ocean platforms?
- • What technologies (i.e., buoys equipped with sensors) can help vessels and platforms detect tail-end environmental events such as rogue waves?
- • What designs and materials are ideal for creating lightweight deckhouses and cabins aboard a seastead platform?
- • What ship/barge structures produce the most and least seasickness?
- • What are the costs of various data transmission alternatives at various distances from shore?