Chain Mining Tool
The nodules harvesting is carried out by a mining tool that is implemented as a 12-meter wide chain-and-ladle unit. The ladles move in the planes in parallel to the UV movement trajectory. The revolving chain ladles harvest the nodules and convey them to the mining tank from where the nodules are carried by the elevator to the UV’s storage tank. The specially designed (chain) ladles draw the minerals together with a silt layer: the silt drains through their latticed walls and bottom, while the solid minerals are conveyed to the tank. We are also fine-tuning a function that will allow depositing the disturbed silt using special equipment.
The maneuvering propulsion devices ensure the UV movement along the trajectory of a certain pathway. In the course of harvesting, the UV body is moving over the bottom. The chain-and-ladle mining tool moves with respect to the body using a regulated drive and, while hanging down, slides over the bottom. The mining tool is capable of passing seabed obstacles of almost 1.5-2 meters high, without a need to interrupt mining operations.
Suction Mining Tool
We are developing a reduced impact mining method – with the use of fiberglass chain sections that, on the move, suck the nodules onto the latticework (with holes of up to 5 cm) with a suction flow.
All particles/nodules, bigger than 5 cm, are trapped into the latticework.
Particles smaller than 5 cm get into a sedimentation unit, where fine-dispersed sediments and silt are precipitated in an electromagnetic field and discharged back to the mining site.
We can harvest solely the nodules, without disturbing the existing layer of sediments, by collecting stirred up sediments and silt into the sedimentation unit. Thus, we can eliminate the problem of silt drifting with the stream and nodules re-lodging.