The Japanese government plans to start joint ventures with the Japan Marine Research and Development Agency as early as 2020 to use autonomous unmanned submarines (AVs) to investigate rare earth reserves in the deep sea on Nanbird Island on the ogassahara islands.
The investigation will confirm that the seabed contains high concentrations of rare earthformations, and strive to capture the accurate reserves of rare earths, Nikkei Chinese reported Tuesday. If successful, the investigation is said to be the world’s first use of autonomous unmanned submarines to investigate rare earth reserves.
People’s Daily Online reported on April 11, 2018 that a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo and the Japan Marine Research and Development Agency found that the waters of the exclusive economic zone around Nanbird Island, the easternmost island of Japan, contain large amounts of rare earth resources that could be used around the world for hundreds of years. The study was published in the electronic edition of the British scientific journal Science Reports on April 10 last year.
In 2013, the team found high levels of rare earth mud at the bottom of the sea off Nanbird Island, people’s daily news reported at the time, citing Japan’s Daily News. Since then, they have used survey vessels to sample 25 places at the bottom of the sea 250 km south of Nanbird Island (at a depth of 5,600 m), with an estimated resource area of about 2,400 square kilometres and a total reserve of about 16 million tons, including metal vanadium (for engines, etc.) to meet global demand for 420 years. Metal palladium (for liquid crystal display light-emitting materials, etc.) meets the global demand for 620 years.
The research team also developed mining techniques. Noting that the particles of rare earth mud were more than three times larger than the usual mud particles, they invented a special device to screen them out. The experimental results show that this is 1.6 times higher than the concentration of the collection by taking out the mud fishing directly.
The independent unmanned submarine sonunder used in the investigation was developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States, Nikkei Chinese reported Tuesday. The purchase, including accessories, was about 1 billion yen (about 65 million yuan). The submarine will launch ultrasonic waves to the sea floor at a depth of 6,000 meters in Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Nanbird Island, measuring the distribution and thickness of “rare earth mud” containing high concentrations of rare earths.
Previously, Japan used ships at sea to collect stratigraphic samples at specific locations, making it difficult to understand the extent to which rare earth formations are connected and the size and depth of the formations. If the use of autonomous unmanned submarines, a large-scale investigation of the deep seabed, accurate possession. If the investigation is successful, the Japanese government will discuss the simultaneous use of 10 autonomous unmanned submarines in order to conduct an investigation on a larger scale. Japan also plans to set up terminals on the deep seabed for charging and data transmission.
The development of the steady exploitation of rare earth mud at 6,000 metres deep in the sea is also advancing. Using the Earth, a scientific survey vessel owned by the Japan Marine Research and Development Agency, Japan is expected to repeat operations at various locations to release pipes weighing nearly 1,500 tons to the sea floor to absorb rare earth mud.
Rare earths are the general term for 17 metal elements, such as niobium, niobium and niobium. A small amount of rare earth can significantly change the properties of alloys and materials, known as “industrial vitamins”. Rare earths are widely used in hybrid vehicles (HVs), energy-efficient appliances, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and smartphones.
China is rich in rare earth deposits, according to a report in Science and Technology Daily in June this year, China’s rare earth reserves accounted for about 23% of the world’s production of the world’s rare earth commodities 80% to 90%, of which 60% to 70% of rare earth products exported abroad, are the world’s first.
About 60 percent of Japan’s rare earths are imported from China, according to NikkeiChinese.com. The industrialization of rare earths based on domestic mining in Japan is a long-term issue in Japan.