The strategic aim of Project Blue Nodules is to provide breakthrough solutions that will bring to reality an industrially viable and sustainable deep sea mining value chain for raw materials contained in polymetallic nodules. To achieve this, Blue Nodules will develop and prove concept and feasibility.
This technological capability will open the way to the next steps, i.e. system prototype demonstration in real environment (TRL7) and system completed and qualified (TRL8).
I.B.I.3.1 & I.B.I.3.4
Blue Nodules will develop a new highly-automated and technologically sustainable deep sea mining system for harvesting of polymetallic nodules in the seabed at water depths 3,000 – 6,000 metres. Project features are amongst others the in-situ processing of the nodules, i.e. sediment separation and crushing/sizing and excellent, intrinsic safe working conditions. Special attention will be paid to a minimum environmental impact and compliance with the relevant policies and regulations. The project aims will demonstrate TRL 6 sea-bed operation of autonomous system for nodules harvesting and Sea-bed sediment separation.
The project consortium with key stakeholders covering the value chain, hereby matching obtained solutions with market conditions. Blue Nodules addresses the interlinked technological, economic and environmental issues related to deep sea mining. Core members of the Blue Nodules consortium have already dealt in part with these issues within in-company, national and the on-going EU projects Blue Mining and MIDAS and JPI Oceans Pilot Action “Ecological Aspects of Deep-Sea Mining”.
Blue Nodules specific research/technological objectives, main innovations and key results are:
1. The knowledge, advanced models, design methodologies and technologies (TRL6) for a full scale deep sea mining system for polymetallic nodules consisting of the nodule collector, umbilical and jumper hose;
2. The knowledge and advanced models for building and assessing of business cases representing the entire value chain of polymetallic nodules;
3. The knowledge and advanced models and methodologies for determining the overall environmental impact of the deep sea mining of polymetallic nodules in water depths up to 6,000 metres.
1) Set the functional requirements and assess the performance of the developed deep sea mining system for polymetallic nodules within the context of a realistic and technical, economic and environmental balanced business case.
2) Development and testing of the essential components for the harvesting of polymetallic nodules to a TRL4 to TRL6.
3) Determination of the properties and characteristics of the mined material in every stage of the process flow and the development of near-situ separation, measurement and comminution systems.
4) Design and development of reliable and sufficient sea surface facilities, offshore and onshore operations for the processing and storage of the polymetallic nodules, the process water and the tailings.
5) Identification, quantification and evaluation of environmental pressures of deep-sea polymetallic nodule harvesting, processing, and transport
1) Blue Nodules develops the technological capabilities up to TRL6 for industrially-viable and sustainable mining and (in situ) mineral processing of polymetallic nodules in European and international waters from 3,000 to 6,000 m WD and up to sea state 6 conditions. This opens the way to system prototype demonstration in real environment (TRL7) and system complete and qualified (TRL8). Successful completion of these steps leads to technology leadership, improved competitiveness of the EU mining sector and access to (critical) raw materials. Envisaging to become a global player within 5-10 years;
2) Blue Nodules contributes to environmental and socially important impacts by opening up the possibilities for a) new mineral resources (polymetallic nodules) with significantly low severe ecological impact, b) sustainable highly automated technology for remote and efficient operations that can be retrieved and moved to other mining locations and c) the creation of numerous attractive jobs with excellent working conditions in deep sea mining and equipment manufacturing industries.
- Set functional requirements and assessment of the deep sea mining system
- Develop and test collector, propulsion system and tailings and water management systems
- Develop near-situ separation, measurement and comminution systems
- Design and develop sea surface facilities, define mining vessel layout and transfer at sea
- Coordination of the project