Spring 2013

Bridge monitoring system adapted for marine energy foundations

Strainstall has announced the development of a new product specifically targeted at helping to ensure the structural integrity of the seabed foundations and anchoring systems of offshore wind and marine renewable generating systems.

ScourAlert™ is a proven Strainstall product used to address the erosion of bridge foundations – a crucial function, given that the removal of supporting material by the action of water – in the form of currents, tides, or other turbulent flows – accounts for approximately 60 percent of all bridge failures. The system provides continuous monitoring and early warning of these so-called ‘scour issues’, so that appropriate asset life management strategies can be adopted and objective data recorded on their effectiveness following implementation.

With the rapid and unprecedented development of marine renewable energy resources – and not least with the trend toward the use of multi-megawatt wind turbines – the long-term integrity of seabed foundations is an issue of increasing importance to commercial wind farm investors and developers. For this reason Strainstall is developing a version of this proven technology for subsea foundations.

The sensor assembly will be embedded in the seabed within the zone where scour is a potential risk – for example, close to the foundation of an offshore wind turbine foundation or alongside subsea electricity cables. The sensing element comprises a vertical stainless steel tube, which is mostly buried, fitted with internal sensors. A magnetic collar around the tube initially rests on the seabed; if scour occurs and material is washed away, the collar falls and triggers the internal sensors as it does so. Strainstall’s specialist subsea telemetry systems, which are equipped with long-life batteries for extended operation, enable the system to issue automatic warning messages when such scour erosion is detected.

Structural inspections in the marine environment are labour intensive, expensive and can at times also be potentially hazardous. By allowing the remote monitoring of structures – and hence enabling inspections to be focused on those areas where alarms are triggered – ScourAlert™ thus provides an attractive solution for renewable energy companies, both from a commercial viewpoint as well as in terms of their operatives’ health and safety. 

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