Cathie team

Cathie delivers foundation design for subsea datacenter

Offshore geoscience and geotechnical engineering consultancy Cathie has carried out a foundation design feasibility study for an offshore, subsea datacenter.

Courtesy: Cathie

Cathie’s undisclosed system developer for the storage of datacenters offshore and underwater, engaged them to undertake a foundation design study for subsea sites with soft soils to secure the structure onto the seabed.

Cathie provided its experience in subsea geotechnical and geological conditions to define an appropriate case for the design.

The company configured optimal designs for both skirted mudmat and suction caisson foundation types, according to the load requirements of the datacenter, which need a very high horizontal resistance with the minimum possible self-weight of the structure. All this, whilst ensuring optimised submerged self-weight to reliably penetrate the foundation into the seabed.

Cathie took part in this project following completion of ‘pin foundation’ designs for tidal devices on rocky seabed, requiring optimisation of horizontal capacity with minimum self-weight.

Emilio Nicolini, technical director, Cathie, said: “Innovation is at the heart of Cathie so we were delighted to be able to support our client with this exercise on such an unconventional project.

“Drawing on our geotechnical expertise, we were able to evaluate the suitability of the different foundation types, taking into account the soil structure combined with the potential tidal flow and met ocean load and provide a recommendation for our client to take forward.”

Advantages of subsea datacenters

Project Natick, Vessel retrieval Stromness, Orkney. Microsoft – Tuesday 7th to Wednesday 15th of July 2020

Securely locating datacenters offshore, within close proximity to offshore wind farms or tidal arrays offers many benefits.

The consistently cool subsurface sea temperatures offers an ideal method of keeping the vast amounts of electrical equipment cool, while powering them with reliable, renewable energy.

Microsoft also recently announced recovery of their Orkney subsea datacenter which made use of these benefits.