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 Underwater Vehicle 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 ladles.
Minerals are collected in their natural shape while the Vehicle is moving 3-5 meters above the bottom surface during an hour at the speed of ca 0.5-0.7 m/sec. Upon completion of storage tanks loading, the Vehicle receives an instruction to start surfacing. The surfacing takes, again, about an hour, following which the collected minerals are unloaded to the ship used for logistics purposes (and simultaneously a controlled process of filling the Vehicle with the overboard water is taking place). After that, the Vehicle immerses again and continues collecting the nodules, then the cycle is repeated.
The ballast waters pumping into the UV is carried out through the power unit. The water is conveyed to the ballast tanks in the course of immersion and fills them, thereby providing the UV’s negative buoyancy. While performing its mining operations, the UV loads the nodules to a storage tank, simultaneously pumping the same volume of ballast waters out. Having harvested the required volume of nodules, the UV turns into positive buoyancy by pumping the water out of the ballast tanks under pressure into the power unit, from where the water is pumped through pipelines to the points where the mechanical power is needed, and through a turbine that converts the water
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.