Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan has laid the foundation stone for the new ocean research facility of ESSO-NIOT in Thupilipallam village, Vakadu Mandal, near Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.

The research facility of Earth System Science Organisation-National Institute of Ocean Technology, to be established at a cost of over Rs.250 crore, is expected to be the future hub of ocean technology in India. It will facilitate testing of various equipment and operations to be undertaken in actual sea conditions and would enable demonstration of its technologies.

The ESSO-NIOT research facility, spread across 150 acres, would have several laboratories for carrying out prototype tests in a test pond to qualify the method and procedures of deep sea mining concept where a crawler-based mining machine collects, crushes and pumps nodules to the mother ship using a positive displacement pump through a flexible riser system. Minerals like copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese can be extracted through such deep sea mining. It will comprise physical wave basin for scaled model experimental studies, deepwater installations, visualisation, dynamic simulator, high performance computing etc. This facility will also cater to development of technology to harness energy from gas hydrates in deep sea.

Besides, other research and testing facilities will cover marine biotechnology, marine sensor system for ocean electronics and ocean acoustics, and modelling laboratories. A berthing facility with a control room at this centre is also proposed for operation and maintenance of the various research vessels.

The Andhra Pradesh government, through the district administration of Nellore, has transferred 211 acres of land in two different places — one near Thupilipallam village in Vakadu Mandal abutting the sea and another at Chittedu for a computational and training facility.

The training facility near Chittedu village is for software development for ocean data analysis and to provide training in ocean-related R&D areas. A data centre is also proposed for analysis, data computation and interpretation of ocean data.

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