The world’s first engineering test centre aimed at speeding the development of materials and structures for tidal energy and transport is to be built in Fife by a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and Babcock International.
The £2.4 million FASTBLADE project, to be based in Rosyth, will carry out large-scale accelerated testing of tidal blades using complex forces simulating real environments, limiting the risks for product developers.
Engineering researchers will use an efficient hydraulic technology – developed by university spin-off company Artemis Intelligent Power – which will allow structures to be tested significantly faster and using less energy compared with existing technologies.
The system will recover energy between load cycles, reducing the cost of testing.
The facility has received £1.4m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and £1m from the University of Edinburgh.
Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, head of school of engineering at the university, and leader of the research activity, said: “This collaboration is an opportunity to develop a world-class engineering facility to accelerate and support the development of new efficient technologies, and will be a great benefit to the tidal energy sector.”
Neil Young, a technology director within Babcock, who has been involved from the project’s concept, said: “When the university approached us, they were looking for specialist facilities and engineering design expertise to help get the project from research application to reality.
“At Babcock’s facility in Rosyth, we had both these key requirements, which were not available anywhere else in a single location.
“We’ve worked in close partnership with the university to optimise the design of the reaction frame which the composite structure is mounted to. The design also included upgrading the foundation design in the building to accommodate the additional loads imposed by the fatigue testing.
“For us, this really is a great industrial partnership.
“Whilst we are still at the early stages of development I know we are creating something that isn’t just a great opportunity for us, it will have real benefit for all the companies using the facility in years to come.”