The deployment of energy devices (floating wind and wave energy convertors) is a demanding task and in particular, the mooring systems seem to generate a series of issues that the industry needs to tackle in order to obtain cost-effective and durable solutions.
On the one hand, the materials required need to be light to ease transport, and on the other hand, they need to be capable of withstanding the loads required as well as be resilient to the harsh environment, and finally, the installation needs to be easy to fit in difficult conditions, such as on vessels in the open sea.
The industry is looking at materials alternative to steel that could be lighter and decrease the risk of failure for corrosion and stress load.
During the STORM project our research group developed a novel aluminium matrix composite and TTI in collaboration with Nylacast developed a novel connector design that works only in compression and it is easy to install.
The focus on the mooring connector is related to industrial requirements that indicated the connectors as points of failure for the rope, creating catastrophic failures for the whole device and large capital costs.
In this new project, we are upscaling and deploying the connector off the coast of Plymouth within the Marlin Star project. The new connector, initially designed to reach 60 tonnes breakload has now been upscaled to 85 tonnes breakload successfully.
The needs of the industry vary from 60 tonnes breakload to more than 200 tonnes breakload to be able to satisfy the requirements of the wave energy converters and the floating wind, which have a much larger structure and produce a much larger breakload.
In this step, we move from 60 to 85 and our device from TRL 4 (tested in laboratory conditions) to TRL7, tested in real working conditions. This testing step is of uttermost importance to start the validation process for the mooring connector in order to bring the innovation to market.
Once the device is validated at a larger scale this will bring a 50% decrease in weight and a 30% reduction in cost for deployment as well as a 100% improvement in maintenance cost (the material do not corrode and ensure that ropes are kept in good conditions), bringing a large cost-savings for developers of renewable energy devices.
The sponsor of this research, Tension Technology is the leader in the design of mooring systems and in collaboration with the manufacturing company (Nylacast) will be able to bring this new component to the market.
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Related Research Group(s)
Experimental Techniques Centre - A highly regarded cross-disciplinary characterisation facility, with specialist staff that have expertise from various scientific disciplines, e.g. biology, metallurgy, geology and engineering.
Wolfson Centre for Sustainable Materials Development and Processing - Research into the development and processing of new materials including nano-materials, nano-phosphors and nanostructured carbon, biofuels, polymers and bio-polymers.
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Project last modified 06/07/2021