UV Operation Principle
The known research and development studies have demonstrated that one of the most important components of any mining and production plant is the system for transportation of the extracted minerals from the ocean bottom to the above-water craft.
The Underwater Vehicle operation and minerals collection are carried out by means of maintenance of zero buoyancy – as a result of water draining from the ballast tanks. At the same time, the energy of the drained water is used to drive operating mechanisms (the tool for minerals collection) and provide the operating motion in the course of dispatching the movement direction, speed and height of the unit above the ground.
The AUV operates as a shuttle capable of immersing to the depth of 6,000 meters. Upon completion of the immersion to the specified depth and reaching a mining site, the Vehicle starts harvesting FMNs using special chain buckets.
The ballast waters pumping into the AUV is carried out through the power unit. The water is conveyed to the tanks in the course of immersion and fills the ballast system, thereby providing the AUV’s negative buoyancy. While performing its mining operations, the AUV loads the nodules to a storage tank, simultaneously pumping the same volume of ballast waters out. Having harvested the required volume of nodules, the AUV turns into positive buoyancy by pumping the water out of the ballast system. The working liquid of the ballast system is sea water.
The AUV positioning at a distance of 3-5 meters from the ground is carried out with the help of propellers located in vertical cylindrical channels. The distance to the ground is determined using echo sounders located in the bottom of the vehicle. With the help of propellers, the vehicle moves in a horizontal plane at ca 0.5-0.7 m per sec.
The Underwater Vehicle control system makes it possible to operate the Vehicle at the depth of almost 6,000 meters and use its standard configuration functions - WAAS/EGNOS GPS for surface navigation, Iridium Satellite connection and wireless connection to the local network for data transmission purposes. The acoustic modem is used for the communication and status update, when the Vehicle is below the surface.
To learn more about the UV structure, please see this article.