Photo: The €3.7M UMACK project will benefit from the University of Dundee’s experimental and physical testing facilities (Courtesy of UMACK)

UMACK bolsters anchoring expertise with University of Dundee partnership

The UMACK (Universal Mooring, Anchor & Connectivity Kit) project has teamed up with the University of Dundee’s Geotechnical Engineering Group to support the development of a new ‘vibro-installed’ anchor system for marine energy applications.

The €3.7M UMACK project will now also benefit from the University of Dundee’s experimental and physical testing facilities (Courtesy of UMACK)
The €3.7M UMACK project will now also benefit from the University of Dundee’s experimental and physical testing facilities (Courtesy of UMACK)

The new anchor solution developed in the UMACK project will form part of a high-capacity mooring system supporting wave energy developer CorPower Ocean with its first commercial-scale demonstration project, HiWave-5, launching in Portugal later this year.

The €3.7 million UMACK project will now also benefit from the University of Dundee’s experimental and physical testing facilities, developed as part of the Scottish Marine and Renewable Test Centre (SMART).

Matt Dickson, UMACK project manager and CorPower Ocean’s head of projects, said the partnership marked a ‘significant breakthrough’ adding greater resource and expertise in the field of geotechnical engineering and science to the UMACK project team.

Michael Brown, professor at Dundee’s School of Science and Engineering, added: “It’s a huge honour to work with the UMACK Project consortium contributing to the deployment of Corpower’s C4 wave energy converter and is a testament to the expertise and facilities that we have in Dundee.

“Developing the concepts in a university research environment using scaled physical modelling means that all of the important influencing factors can be controlled and understood. This allows concepts to progress in technology readiness level (TRL) at a fraction of the cost of full-scale offshore demonstration projects”.

UMACK presents a step change in technology for the ocean energy space addressing issues around affordability, durability and reliability of marine power system’s mooring and anchoring.

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The UMACK solution is being developed to supersede widely used ‘gravity-based’ anchors – reducing CAPEX, installation and O&M (operational & maintenance) costs by more than 50%, according to the project.

Novel ‘vibro-installed’ anchor system

The consortium’s work with the University of Dundee is focusing on a novel ‘vibro-installed’ anchor system and involves world-class scaled anchor centrifuge testing and advanced computational modelling.

The full-scale prototype anchor consists of a 1.5 metre diameter plain pile like structure with the novel UMACK pile tip end piece attached at the end which is then gradually vibrated into the seabed.

CorPower Ocean's wave energy converter sub-surface view (Courtesy of UMACK)
CorPower Ocean’s wave energy converter sub-surface view (Courtesy of UMACK)

The novel UMACK pile tip design reduces soil resistance, enabling the anchor to be driven to the desired project penetration depth. Once the vibration stops, the UMACK anchor solution mobilises a large wedge of earth to provide a very large tensile capacity.

The solution is said to replace the need for gravity-based anchors and also alternative large diameter plain pile anchors which are driven straight into the ocean floor through a noisy process known to be detrimental to marine life. Large diameter plain piles are also expensive, often forming in the region of 30-40% of development costs of a new offshore generation site.

Modelling work is now underway at 1:50 scale to rigorously test the technology and understand optimum configuration for ease of installation, adaptability to different seabed types and maximum uplift capacity.

3D-printed metal anchors are also being subjected to thousands of cycles of wave loading to assess lifetime performance, according to UMACK project partners.

The UMACK project is led by a European consortium including geotechnical specialist Ternan Energy, wave and tidal energy developers CorPower Ocean and Sustainable Marine Energy Limited, mooring experts TTI Marine Renewables, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), and marine renewable energy modelling experts from the University of Edinburgh.