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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.' - HG Winters, 1939.
Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.
Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...' - Isaac Asimov, 1965.
ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...' - EB White, 1950.
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.
Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.
Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.'
Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.'
China Develops Taste Testing Robots
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.'
Tesla Robotaxis Will Automatically Recharge Themselves
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'
New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.'
Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD
'Gramp Stevens sat in a lawn chair, watching the mower at work...'
Elon Musk Foretells Tesla Sans Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'
Adversarial Patches Trick Computer Vision
'The surveillance cameras can all see it, but then they forget they’ve seen it.'
Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now
'The system has already fired five people...'
BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'
Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'
'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'
A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'
'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories