Broadly speaking, the Submerged Seabed Systems research theme deals with the interaction of tools and systems with the seabed and the search for new designs of these systems. Part of the discipline focuses on improving established dredging techniques, for example to maintain sufficient draught or for sand extraction, but the field is now much broader than this.
Particularly in recent years, numerous applications have emerged outside of traditional dredging activities. For example, there is great demand for systems for setting up infrastructure on the seabed, such as installing offshore wind turbines and laying cables in the seabed.
Another relatively new field of application concerns Deep Sea Mining, a fast-growing activity due to the worldwide demand for rare metals. For the extraction of manganese nodules at great depths, for example, research is being carried out together with oceanographers to find out how this can be done most efficiently with as little disturbance to the seabed as possible.
Minimising this disturbance, and the associated turbidity, is usually an important issue in this theme. The same challenge also arises in fishing activities, for example.
Researchers are cooperating closely with major players in the Dutch industry in this area. Extensive use is being made of the facilities at the M&TT Dredging Lab. Among other things, a modular channel is available there that can be adapted to the research question.