Deep sea mining is one of the new fields of industry that can aid in the supply of critical raw materials. Vast amounts of polymetallic nodules are found on the floor of the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean at typical water depths of 3 to 6 kilometers, containing appreciable amounts of cobalt, nickel and copper. To date, subsea harvesting equipment (collectors) is known to generate large plumes of suspended particles which will have serious impacts on seabed life in the areas surrounding the mine sites and potentially for some kilometers distant to the mine sites.
The solution (technology)
This project will focus on the development and improvement of the collector reducing its environmental impact and optimizing its production rate and efficiency. It will build on the development of the collector from the Blue Nodules (H2020) project through improved design to reduce the volume of sediment that will be brought into suspension and hence the volume of the plume. Extensive simulations on the fluid dynamics of the collector as a whole, both inlet, processing and outlet of the water flow entraining nodules and sediment, will be analyzed and validated with lab and field tests. These results will be used to optimize the design of the system as a whole to limit the production and dispersion of suspended sediment.