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Self-Sustaining Underwater City Proposed

Friday, November 10, 2017

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A new proposal for cities that could be taken over by changing water levels is a real example of thinking outside the box.

Japanese engineering firm Shimizu Corporation has introduced a project called “Ocean Spiral,” an entirely self-sufficient underwater city that the firm maintains could be up and running by 2030.

Images: Shimizu Corporation

Japanese engineering firm Shimizu Corporation has introduced a project called “Ocean Spiral,” an entirely self-sufficient underwater city that the firm maintains could be up and running by 2030.

Originally proposed in 2014—with Tokyo University and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology—the design has been tweaked over the past three years and has a $26 billion price tag for the plan off the coast of Tokyo, and project leader Masaki Takeuch talked to Business Insider earlier this year about the practicalities of moving infrastructure below sea level.

The Design

The current plan sees turbines stationed on the ocean floor drawing power from tides and currents. Also sitting on the floor would be a research lab, working with other natural resources found in the sea bed.

From there, a miles-long spiral takes advantage of the different atmospheric pressures, temperatures and environments of the ocean and converts the harvested energy using thermal energy conversion for use at the top sphere, where residencies, schools, offices and mostly everything else would be located.

Drinking water would be produced with a reverse osmosis membrane desalination process, which also utilizes the different pressures. Underwater farms would grow fish, crustaceans and aquatic plants. The firm also says it would look into converting carbon dioxide into methane for additional energy.

The architects say the system could generate enough power for the 500-meter-diameter sphere to house 5,000 people. They also argue, that since the compound would use 100 percent renewable energy and 70 percent of Earth’s surface is ocean, there is tremendous untapped potential.

The architects say the system could generate enough power for the 500-meter-diameter sphere to house 5,000 people.

"But we have not made the most of this potential yet," Takeuch told Insider. "Now, I propose this new challenge for the future."


The proposal includes some specified materials, including:

  • Sphere: high-strength resin concrete, rustproof resin bars, concrete that includes materials from recycled PET beverage containers; and
  • Exterior Wall: Triangular acrylic plates with each side measuring 50 meters, semitransparent FRP ribs, a sealant to protect against water and absorbing displacement, microbubbles to clean and prevent marine life adhesion.

The firm also noted that parts of the sphere would be 3-D printed. Other construction techniques would include automated vertical diversion of large-scale concrete forms, the balanced cantilever Dywidag method and methods used in other maritime construction such as completing structures at the surface then submerging them.

Further diagrams were provided detailing different maintenance strategies and where on Earth prime locations are for such cities.


Tagged categories: Construction; Infrastructure

Comment from Dave Polovitz, (11/10/2017, 8:59 AM)

That's thinking outside the box all right. Um, how many people would want to live underwater? They should take a poll and see...

Comment from peter gibson, (11/10/2017, 10:56 AM)

Absolute nonsense.If you can dream it...they will come. No not really. Hyper loop next.I am waiting for that report. CA high speed train....to nowhere. All these ideas. Dream on !

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (11/10/2017, 11:28 AM)

The concept of underwater cities has been around for over 50 years with some research stations turned hotels still being around. This has a much larger scale (and price tag) to it, but is feasible. I think Dave is on to something....might not be for everyone...but for those who like scuba diving and water sports (or if there is a sea taxi / transit system to a nearby land based city), it could be a viable option.

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