Extracting Resources from the Deep Sea


New issue of the "RWTH THEMEN" magazine on the topic of raw materials and recycling.

The latest issues of the RWTH THEMEN magazine reports on research projects of the Aachen University, discussing topics such as mineral deposits, processing of raw materials, production, and waste managment. 17 contributions introduce research on the rehabilitation of mining areas, security aspects in mining, sensor-based sorting, recycling of electronics waste, and cherry stones as energy carrier.

To name an example, manganese nodules are potato-sized rock concretions that can be found in deep sea areas between depths of 3,500 and 6,500 m, mainly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are formed by an ultra-slow metal concentration process from seawater and seafloor sediment. An RWTH research project is concerned with how to extract and process them.

Securing occupational health and safety is an important responsibility in the mining industry. In many countries, workers in the mining and raw materials industries are not sufficiently educated to implement modern health and safety principles. Against this backdrop, two projects at RWTH Aachen seek increase awareness and preparedness world-wide. In general, with the increasing demand for natural resources, it becomes more important as well to improve the education and training in the mining sector to achieve sustainable resources extraction.

The RWTH Institute Institute for Mineral Resources Machine Technology is working on sensor technology to enhance the exploitation of mineral deposits. An experienced miner can “hear” whether a machine is cutting valuable coal or worthless host rock. With the help of Acoustic Emission Technology, AE for short, machines can “learn” to identify materials on their own.

AKR – Aachen Competence Center for Resource Technology

The process chain from deposit exploration and raw material extraction and processing, through to the recycling and utilization of end-of-life products involves various disciplines, such as mining, underground engineering, metallurgy and metal recycling, and resource and materials engineering. In order to make it easier to initiate and coordinate integrated research and development projects between industrial partner and university institutions, more than 20 professors have joined forces to establish the Aachen Competence Center for Resource Technology, AKR for short.

Source: Press and Communications