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Japan to build underwater cities in 15 years

By Stephen Morgan     Nov 26, 2014 in World
No, it isn't some underwater pipe dream. Japanese company Shimizu Corp is really planning to build an underwater Atlantis within the next 15 years.
The company, which has a reputation for futuristic schemes, says that its concept of building underwater cities is a feasible project using new technology currently under research. In the words of Shimizu, the new cities would be able to “capitalise on the infinite possibilities of the deep sea.”
Called the "Ocean Spiral", it would combine an urban structure and scientific research facilities starting just below the surface of the water and extending 10 miles (16kms) down in a spiral to the sea bed. The living dome at the top could both float above water and/or be retracted under the sea in bad weather. It could also be resupplied using underwater docking stations.
The Washington Post says that there would be a giant sphere at the top, some 1,500 feet (450ms) in diameter which would have apartments, shops and hotels. The initial structures would house around 5,000 people.
The aim is to make it eco-friendly by harnessing energy from the seabed. Shimizu sees it as an answer to the increasing problems of climate change and rising sea levels. It could also offer an alternative to the catastrophic problems of earthquakes and tsunamis faced by the island nation and provide a solution to the high costs of land and housing in Japan.
According to the Guardian, energy would be pumped up from an “earth factory” on the ocean bed. The underwater plant would turn carbon dioxide from micro-organisms into methane and generators working by a process known as ocean thermal energy conversion, which would convert differences in seawater temperatures at different depths into energy. Water supplies would come from desalination plants using hydraulic pressure to pump supplies into the living areas. They also hope to use it to mine metals and rare minerals from the sea bed.
The idea has caught the imagination of university professors, energy firms and government ministries. The Telegraph says that "Shimizu has been working on the project with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and Tokyo University and believes it will take five years to build the first unit." The company estimates that it will cost at some $26 billion to build, but it expects that future cities would be much cheaper than the prototype.
In another oceanic project, Shimizu has come up with the idea of floating cities to help sinking island nations and other adventurous schemes include a hotel in space and a ring of solar panels encircling the Moon which would supply energy to Earth.
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