The EIT Raw Materials funded project Blue Harvesting commenced its work on April 1st, 2019, setting out to make a step in enabling deep sea mining while minimizing its environmental impact. The consortium consisting of 9 European partners, aims to design, build and test a hydraulic nodule collector in an operational environment, being a poly-metallic nodule field in the NE Atlantic, while minimizing its environmental impact. Within this project, most effort will be spent on reducing the plume generation and dispersion caused by the hydraulic nodule collector. Project coordinator Rudy Helmons (TU Delft) says: “The three-year project can be regarded as a success if the full scale hydraulic nodule collector performs successfully in its operational environment, while setting a new benchmark regarding its environmental performance.”
Blue Harvesting will study how to reduce the sediment plume that is generated by the hydraulic nodule collector. The starting point is to reduce the amount of process water needed and to optimize the conditions under which the sediment is released from the collector. Dredging and mining specialists will contribute to design a novel collector and separation system to reduce the water intake and the sediment dispersion.
In Blue Harvesting, the new design of the hydraulic nodule collector will be tested in scaled laboratory tests, full scale laboratory tests, harbour trials and finally it will be tested in 2021 in a poly-metallic nodule field the deep sea in the NE Atlantic. In the deep sea tests, extensive tests will be done to determine the environmental conditions prior to testing the collector, while testing the collector and how the test site and its vicinity is affected by the hydraulic collector.
Blue Harvesting is partly funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, EIT Raw Materials under project number 18138. Partners working together in this TU Delft coordinated project are IHC Mining, RWTH Aachen, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Aarhus University, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Jakobs University Bremen, Universitat Polytecnica Catalunya and Seascape Consultants.