The subsea and offshore sector is vital to the North East and wider economy. The universities’ strengths in this area are complementary, providing a comprehensive range of research, facilities and expertise to subsea and related businesses.
At Newcastle University the Schools of Marine Sciences and Technology, Electrical, Mechanical, Chemical, and Civil Engineering, and the University’s Engineering Excellence Initiative are well-placed to respond to the need from the sector. The University boasts a wealth of assets and strengths including the Neptune National Centre, a £10 million subsea and offshore engineering centre, developed in partnership with business. Other facilities include a Hyperbaric Chamber, a Cavitation Tunnel, a Flow Cell and Tow Tank. Expertise in subsea communications, materials and marine coatings, hydrodynamic and fluid dynamics simulation and modelling and cyber physical systems and Big Data analytics puts Newcastle University at the forefront of subsea technology research and application.
Sunderland University has also developed research and development into actuation technologies, autonomous control systems, subsea communications systems and real time condition monitoring. And Northumbria University’s expertise in combustion modelling and simulation, thermos-fluids and thermodynamics involves them in industrial collaborations, a recent one assessing the feasibility of a new design of jacking system for offshore oil rigs.
A smart approach
Newcastle University’s expertise in subsea sensing and condition monitoring is complemented by Northumbria University’s research into smart materials and smart surfaces. This work at Northumbria includes research to combat the bio-fouling of subsea equipment and technology for bacteriostatic surfaces. Sunderland University’s reliability prediction modelling, monitoring and management, assesses in-service subsea and materials degradation and supports the development of new criticality guidelines. The University is also using data analysis to inform the management of subsea assets and the development of long term maintenance strategies.
The School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Durham University leads the condition monitoring and asset management aspect of the EPSRC Supergen-V Wind Consortium. The Energy Research Group focuses on the commercial development of offshore wind power. Northumbria University’s Power and Wind Energy Research group also has expertise in wind energy conversion systems and integration of renewable energy into the grid.
The Mechanics Research Group at Durham has extensive expertise in soil and computational mechanics (novel finite element methods, material models, boundary element and meshless methods) relevant to challenges in structural and fracture mechanics and geotechnical engineering. Applications include joint integrity, contact stress, high pressure/high temperature and subsea structures design. There is also extensive expertise in advanced materials including formulation /design (coatings, polymers and composites) and predictive modelling and simulation with niche expertise in Hydraulics and Vision systems.
Materials testing and analysis at Sunderland University explores stress under environmental conditions, HPHT and polymer and composite predictive modelling. Their power, controls and sensors research supports development into actuation technologies, autonomous control systems, subsea communications systems and real time condition monitoring.