Improved Nodule Collector Design to Mitigate Sediment Plumes

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Exploratory Topics
Houston, Texas
Project Term:
04/24/2020 - 03/31/2022

Critical Need:

This topic seeks to support entrepreneurial energy discoveries, by identifying and supporting disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies within small businesses and collaborations with universities and national labs. These projects have the potential for large-scale impact, and if successful could create new paradigms in energy technology with the potential to achieve significant reductions in U.S. energy consumption, energy-related imports, or energy-related emissions. These specific projects address technology areas across ARPA-E’s mission spaces, with particular focus on: Advanced bioreactors; Approaches and tools to create enhanced geothermal systems; Non-evaporative dehydration and drying technologies; Approaches to significantly enhance the rate and/or potential scale of carbon mineralization; Separation of CO2 from ambient air (direct air capture); High-rate separation of dissolved inorganic carbon from the ocean to produce a CO2 stream; Advanced trees and other engineered biological systems for carbon sequestration; Innovative deep ocean collector designs for mining polymetallic nodules; Environmental sensors capable of operation in deep ocean environments for mining polymetallic nodules; and Non-carbothermic smelting technologies. Awards under this topic are working to support research and establish potential new areas for technology development, while providing ARPA-E with information that could lead to new focused funding programs. The focus of these projects is to support exploratory research to establish viability, proof-of-concept demonstration for new energy technology, and/or modeling and simulation efforts to guide development for new energy technologies.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Seabed mining may be the best option to fill the impending gap in terrestrial supplies for nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements, which are increasingly used to manufacture electric vehicles and large lithium-ion batteries. Deep Reach Technology will design a novel nodule collector to minimize the impact of sediment plumes, which may disperse and cover the seabed beyond the mining area. The project uses augmented screening and seabed electrocoagulation to achieve this goal. The proposed technology has the potential to fast-track deep sea mining.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Zak Fang
Project Contact:
Dr. John Halkyard
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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