This submarine can take two people 2,000 metres beneath the surface of the ocean - and its makers aim to go even deeper. Florida-based Triton wants to explore the deepest two per cent of the ocean, although for the moment it's confined to the relative shallows. "We're revamping this model so it will be capable of carrying a pilot and a passenger to depths of 2,200 metres," says Patrick Lahey, the company's president. To achieve this, Triton needs to make the cabin of its 7500/2 model (pictured) thicker to withstand deep-ocean pressure. It's currently made from 235mm-thick acrylic glass known as PMMA. The cabin for the new sub will be 261mm, making it the thickest transparent acrylic barrier ever produced. "It's possible for a person to go to the Black Sea's deepest point inside a transparent pressure boundary," Lahey says. The first submersible cabins were built using a technique called flush casting, but the process had too many variables along the production chain that could delay the finished product. So they moved to using German company Evonik, who thermally formed PMMA in an autoclave, which allowed them to create thicker cabins that could be up to two and a half metres in diametre. Each submersible, with models that can carry one passenger or as many as seven, travels around three knots per hour and can reach a depth of 1000 metres in about 45 minutes.
Originally designed as recreational vehicles for superyacht owners, Triton's submersibles are now being used by marine scientists and documentary makers such as Sir David Attenborough to research and film previously unseen corners of the ocean. But Lahey wants to go further, exploring the hadal zone, a series of underwater trenches that reach depths of 11,000 metres. "Ninety-eight per cent of the ocean lies within 6,000 metres of the surface, so if we can hit 6,000 metres we can explore most of the ocean. But the remaining two per cent is actually quite a big area," he says.
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