A significant breakthrough has been achieved in the exploration of combustible ice by a team led by academician Xie Heping from Shenzhen University (SZU). They have developed the world’s first set of deep-sea sediment (combustible ice) insulation and pressure preservation sampling/storage equipment, which was successfully used in a trial mission with the “Fendouzhe” deep-sea manned submersible.
During an eight-hour deep-dive operation Sept. 29, the team obtained solid deep-sea sediments containing combustible ice samples from a depth of 1,385 meters. The samples were maintained at the original pressure of 14.50 MPa and an in-situ temperature of 3 degrees Celsius. The sea trial has realized the active pressure preservation and insulation of solid combustible ice samples at deep-sea in-situ pressure and temperature levels, Shenzhen Economic Daily reported.
The deep-sea sediment pressure preservation sampling/storage equipment. Courtesy of Shenzhen University
The breakthrough holds significant promise for addressing the challenges of exploration and development of combustible ice resources in their natural underwater environment. Additionally, it provides valuable tools and insights for deep-sea in-situ pressure preservation and thermal insulation research and engineering.
The collaborative effort was led by Xie and involved SZU, Sichuan University, and Jinshi Drilltech Co. Ltd.
The equipment utilizes innovative technical features such as in-situ self-triggered pressure preservation and active-passive joint thermal insulation to ensure that the samples’ temperature and pressure remain consistent with the deep-sea in-situ conditions throughout the coring and transfer processes. The equipment is designed to withstand pressures of up to 40 MPa and maintain insulation within a temperature range of 0 to 20 degrees Celsius.
Xie’s team has been dedicated to advancing China’s deep-sea science and technology research, with a particular focus on developing in-situ fidelity coring and fidelity testing technology and equipment, the Daily report said.