This paper presents the first steps towards conceptual design for the underwater transportation of minerals from seabed to shore for deep sea mining (DSM). The methodology is based on conceptual design using a systematic approach. Abstraction was used to identify the fundamental entities of the problem, and a function structure containing the overall function and subfunctions was established based on the abstraction. Further, an extensive search for working principles (WP) was conducted in order to find forms associated with the functions. This was done by exploration of solutions within different industries such as the oil and gas industry, subsea industry and dredging industry. The discovered working principles were then listed and categorized based on their physical principles, i.e. classifying criteria. For each function, the working principles were combined into design catalogues with classifying criteria in the rows and columns. Further, compatibility between principles was reviewed. This led to the selection of four working structure sets: one based on ore moved as bulk, and three based on ore moved inside a container. The container-based solutions are different in how the container is moved: inside the cargo hold, carried outside, or towed by underwater vehicle. A completion of the last steps of the conceptual design process is needed to obtain a principle solution.

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