The Metals Company unveils ocean battery metals collector as firm joins EU Battery Alliance

by Michael Green
TMC plans to use the robotic craft (inset) to collect polymetallic nodules from some four miles deep, 'processing them with zero solid waste and supplying battery metals to EV manufacturers'. Image: TMC

Electric vehicle battery metals developer, The Metals Company (TMC), has unveiled the design for a deep-sea robot that it will used to collect rocks containing battery metals from the ocean floor.

Collecting the first-sized rocks, or polymetallic nodules, is part of TMC’s plans to develop "a scalable source of low-carbon EV battery metals”.

World Battery News reported last March that the company, formerly DeepGreen Metals, was merging with special purpose acquisition company Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp.

Now TMC’s first-generation collector vehicle, designed with Dutch architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is under construction in the Netherlands by Allseas and is set to be deployed for testing early next year.

BIG partner Daniel Sundlin said the nodules will be collected by a "light-touch, robotic collector vehicle that aims a jet of seawater across the tops of the rocks to gently pry them from the sediment”.

The nodules are passed through hose at the top of the vehicle to a rigid riser pipe, where they are lifted on compressed air bubbles to a surface production vessel.

Meanwhile, TMC is positioning itself to become a future supplier to the EU’s battery supply chain, by joining the European Raw Materials Alliance and the European Battery Alliance.

TMC chairman and CEO Gerard Barron said the memberships come at a "pivotal time in the mass electrification of Europe’s transportation”.

"Sourcing battery metals is the single biggest hurdle facing the clean energy transition and, as calls for supply chain diversification grow louder, we look forward to bringing our abundant, low-cost source to Europe’s doorstep, which could electrify every car on European roads with a fraction of the environmental, social and governance impacts.”

TMC has exclusive access to three exploration areas sponsored by Pacific states, which it said contain resources "sufficient for 280 million EV batteries”.

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