Undersea Mining With Nautilus Minerals Seafloor Production System

Nautilus Minerals is developing the first seafloor gold and copper exploration and mining operation. Solwara 1 is a production undersea mining system using existing technology.


( Nautilus Minerals seafloor production system)

Rock is disaggregated on the seafloor by two large robotic machines that excavate material by a continuous cutting process, not unlike coal or other bulk continuous mining machines on land. The Auxiliary Cutter ("AC") is a preparatory machine that deals with rough terrain and creates benches for the other machines to work. It will operate on tracks with spud assistance and has a boom mounted cutting head for flexibility. The second machine, the Bulk Cutter ("BC"), has higher cutting capacity but will be limited to working benches created by the AC. Both machines leave cut material on the seafloor for collection by the Collecting Machine ("CM"). The CM, also a large robotic vehicle, will collect the cut material (sand, gravel, silt) by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the Riser and Lifting System.

The RALS comprises a large pump and rigid riser pipe hanging from a vessel which delivers the slurry to the surface. The proposed positive displacement pump is designed and built by GE Hydril (Houston, TX). The pump hangs from a solid vertical (riser) pipe suspended beneath the support vessel. The pipe is deployed to the seabed by a derrick and draw works system on board the vessel.

On deck of the production support vessel, the slurry is dewatered. The dewatered solid material is discharged to a transportation barge moored alongside. Used seawater is pumped back to the seafloor through the riser pipes and providing hydraulic power to operate the RALS pump. Discharge of the return water at the seafloor will avoid impacts to the warm surface seawaters, minimizing environmental impact of the operation.

Undersea mining has been tried for millennia; in the third century B.C., divers extracted copper ore from a depth of 4 meters near Heybell Island in the Bosporus. However, the first time I read about it as a child was in a somewhat more dramatic narrative format:

"...I utilize the heat of coal from the earth."

"From the earth?" I said, my voice going up on the word.

"We'll say coal from the seafloor, if you prefer," Captain Nemo replied.

"And you can mine these veins of underwater coal?"

"You'll watch me work them, Professor Aronnax. I ask only a little patience of you, since you'll have ample time to be patient. Just remember one thing: I owe everything to the ocean; it generates electricity, and electricity gives the Nautilus heat, light, motion, and, in a word, life itself."

The quote about undersea mining is, of course, from the (still!) amazing 1875 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne.

Read the extensive materials at the Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 project page; via Next Big Future.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/14/2010)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Wear Your Self-Powered Generator
'It's basically a micro-sandwich...' - Frank Herbert, 1965.

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...' - Frank Herbert, 1965.

Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...' - Blade Runner, 1982.

CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...', Frank Herbert, 1965.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

PassivDom 3D Printed House - What If You Could Live Anywhere?
'The houses are prefabricated units...'

Breakthrough In Manufacture Of Red Blood Cells
This blood's for you!

Caihong Solar-Powered Drone 'Atmospheric Satellite'
'... placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface.'

NASA Wants Low Earth Orbit Wifi
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'

Is Genetic Testing At Businesses A Bad Idea?
It's not a topic that fares well in science fiction movies-

Wearable Smart Jacket
He pressed the button in his sleeve communicator and snapped: 'Action stations!'

Store One Bit On One Atom
'...each individual molecule has a meaning.'

Fluorescent Bacteria Fashion
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'

Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'

Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.