Monday, August 20, 2012

No. 593: Japan’s all-star team jointly develops a technology to explore sea bottom resources (August 20, 2012)

Business trend:
Under the initiative of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, six leading Japanese universities collaborate to develop the technology for efficient exploration of sea bottom resources including rare metals. They are Tokyo University, Tokai University, Kochi University, Toyama University, Waseda University, and Kyoto University. Integrating knowledge and technology each university has developed independently, they plan to operate submarine prospecting using an unmanned probe vehicle in three years. The ministry helps the project financially. It has decided to appropriate necessary expenses for the project in the budget request for the next fiscal year.

Currently, each university is working on seafloor development independently. Tokyo University developed a technology to draw a 3-D a sea floor map with the help of the time and intensity of sound waves that go to and come back from the seafloor deposit, while Kochi University developed a technology to know what kinds of resources are buried by studying the substances of water coming from the mineral deposit. The all-star team will integrate each technology and establish a high-precision exploration technology for commercial mining, necessary sensors, and software programs. Although Japan is not blessed with natural resources on land, Japan is supposed to have abundant sea bottom resources. As Article 549 reports, Tokyo University clarified the possibility of the existence of rare earthes in the sea inside the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A high-precision exploration technology is vital to the commercial mining of sea bottom resources.  A related document in a pdf file.

Japan’s state-of-the-art ocean exploration ship “Hakurei” 
Media covers "Hakurei" for the first  time. 

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