JC180: About the drill rig

A bespoke, innovative drill rig, designed and built by Cellula Robotics in Canada, will be lowered into place from the ship onto the seafloor with the aid of downward-facing cameras.

Once in position, the rig will use hydraulic rollers to push a 10m-long, rigid, pre-curved carbon steel pipe into the seafloor sediments, so that the forward end is about 3m below the sediment surface. This is the first time this approach with a pre-curved pipe has been used. The end of the pipe is capped by a spear-like head to ease the pipe through the sediments, and a gas diffuser unit with backward-facing apertures to avoid sediment clogging during the pipe insertion process. A magnet on the end of the pipe will enable its location (and hence the exact CO2 emission point) to be detected by the ROV once the pipe is in place. Cameras on the rig will feed a control panel operated on the ship.

Above: 1) the drill rig will be lowered to the seafloor; 2) the pre-curved pipe will be pushed into the seafloor sediment using hydraulic rollers; 3) once in place, the end of the pipe will be 2-3 metres below the sediment surface; 4) when the gas supply is turned on, CO2 gas will be emitted from a diffuser unit at the end of the pipe into the sediments. Images courtesy Cellula Robotics.

A second pipe will be inserted nearby as a backup. When everything is in place, the drill rig will be recovered back to the ship, the ROV will connect the pipe to the CO2 supply using a long hose, and the experiment will begin.