Gateway Technology for Ocean Measurements

MarineLink.com
Thursday, April 25, 2013
JAMSTEC President Asahiko Taira with Walter Munk on the deck of D/V Chikyu in front of the ship's drilling derrick. Credit: JAMSTEC

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, in collaboration with two private industry firms, are developing potentially breakthrough technologies to capture vital information from the world’s oceans.

Scripps researchers John Orcutt and Jon Berger developed a Memorandum of Understanding with Horton Wison Deepwater (HWD) and John Crane Production Solutions (JCPS) in developing new, uniquely stable and long-lasting ocean buoys with sensors moored to the seafloor to measure ground motion, water column pressure, pH, current speed and direction, optical and acoustic backscatter, salinity, temperature, and myriad other variables over extended periods of time.

Placing sensors on traditional platforms and ships capable of making these measurements is expensive and the sensors themselves tend to lack the necessary stability needed for long term monitoring. The newly designed “taut-moored array” will be moored to the seafloor, outfitted with a renewable energy power supply and fiber optics, with data relayed through a surface antenna.

The Tendon Anchored Composite Ocean Spar, or “TACOS,” designed by HWD and Scripps, has the potential to support a number of deep-water instruments with minimal installation costs.

“We believe TACOS will both reduce life cycle costs enormously while also enhancing sensor stability and data availability,” Orcutt said. “We are combining the proposed new technologies with our past experience in ocean observations and information technology. This will become a gateway technology for these measurements as well as the technologies needed to connect more accurate sensors to the laboratory, classroom and citizens, including those responsible for informed decision making.”

A key to the TACOS design is the replacement of the currently used multi-legged mooring between the surface and the seafloor with a single, economical tether, which restricts buoy motions. JCPS specializes in the “pultrusion” of very strong, composite tendons, which involves running a number of glass or carbon fibers through a die, where an adhering resin is infused to secure the fibers in a particular orientation. The rod is pulled at such a rate that the adhering resin can set during the procedure. The resulting members have enormous strength in tension and are very resistant to corrosion and biofouling.

Berger and Orcutt said the new design will accelerate efforts to gather information about the oceans and the planet.

“The oceans comprise more than 70% of Earth’s surface and serve as a sink for most of the anthropogenic carbon and resultant heat created by greenhouse warming,” Berger said. “Also, the most destructive earthquakes and tsunamis in the past decade were created within the seafloor. While the chemistry and physics of these phenomena are generally well-known, long-term measurements of the underlying changes are wanting.”

HWD has designed, developed and tested large numbers of offshore rigs based on a spar design with flotation away from the surface to avoid large vertical motions. JCPS has expertise in the design, development, testing and construction of inexpensive composite materials suitable for applications in the marine environment.

TACOS will operate as a uniquely stable system that demands much less maintenance than other buoy designs. With the composite spar buoy at the top the system will operate similar to the U.S. Navy/Office of Naval Research’s Floating Instrument Platform (FLIP), which is operated by Scripps.

The researchers estimate the total project cost will be $3.7 million, which includes project funding development, system design and fabrication, installation and operation in Southern California waters for one year.

Berger and his colleagues have successfully applied fiber optics, lasers, and interferometry to create a number of very sensitive, stable sensors for measuring seismic motion, strain, pressure, and acoustics. The scientists hope to extend this work with TACOS, as well as the National Science Foundation-funded HiSeasNet facilities, to the oceans and expand the sensor sets needed for measuring not only seismic and geodetic motion in situ, but climate variables including heat content, deep ocean temperature measurements and ocean thickness variability due to sea-level rise.

One of the team’s design criteria for the project is that the buoy operate for 20 years without replacement to substantially reduce the replacement costs characteristic of other buoys with lifetimes of 2-3 years at most. Another design criterion for these systems is the ability to be deployed from a global class University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) ship such as Scripps research vessels Roger Revelle and Melville (owned by the U.S. Navy).

The researchers have outlined a two-phase program plan to conduct a scientific requirements design study of the TACOS platform and construct, install and operate an initial prototype. Scripps, HWD, and JCPS will secure funding for the construction, deployment and operations funds as soon as the design phase nears an end.

scripps.ucsd.edu

Maritime Reporter September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Ocean Observation

Class NK Eyes Singapore Renewable Energy Facility

ClassNK has launched a feasibility study for a new marine renewable energy testing facility to be built in Singapore.   The announcement was made at the 2014

Study Shows Oceans Arrived Early to Earth

Earth is known as the Blue Planet because of its oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet's surface and are home to the world's greatest diversity of life.

Transneft Cites Weather, Suspends Some Liftings

Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft has suspended oil loadings through all Russian ports except for Makhachkala due to bad weather conditions, RIA news agency said on Monday.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Naval Architecture Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1535 sec (7 req/sec)