Student from University of Strathclyde Develops Solution for Offshore Wind Turbine Access (UK)
An Engineering student at Strathclyde has developed innovative technology to solve a problem which costs the offshore wind turbine industry millions of pounds each year.
Robbie Macdonald, 23, from North Connel, near Oban, has come up with a flexible bridge system to get technicians more quickly and safely to turbines in need of repair. Under the current system, this work can be done only when waves are below 1.5m, often leading to costly production delays.
Robbie has come up with a gangway system which could be mounted onto wind farm transfer vessels and would fit almost all types of turbine. His design, named SolidSeaTransfer, would double the maximum wave height for safe transfer to 3m and minimise the risk of crossing to the base of the turbine, potentially making huge savings for the industry each year and increasing production by up to 35%.
Robbie, aged 23, who was a pupil at Oban High School before joining Strathclyde, started to develop his initial idea in September 2010 and has been working on it since then. It has been physically tested in a wave tank, using a scale prototype.
He said: “I did a placement involving wind energy which stimulated my interest in the industry. I have noticed that a fixed point of access from the vessel to the turbine could be a way of increasing safety.
“My system could increase the wave height where it’s safe to do work on turbines and raise the number of days it can be done on from 50% to 85%.
“This project is something I plan to take forward towards commercialisation. It’s much more than a university project for me- it’s something I want to take beyond studying and turn the idea into a reality.
“It has given me valuable skills and the independence I have been allowed will be invaluable in the future.”
Robbie is being supported in his project by Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network (SEN), a free service which provides funding and support to help the University’s students, staff and alumni commercialise their ideas and set up new companies. Through SEN, Robbie was asked to present at the Strathclyde 100 event in May, giving him some valuable contacts in the industry and he is now in talks with an established company with a view to potential collaboration.
Robbie is continuing to work with the University to commercialise his product. The project has been on display at an exhibition of work by fourth and fifth year students from Strathclyde’s Department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management (DMEM).
The showcase featured a unique range of designs and the results of creative analysis by Engineering students into the many problems faced by individuals and organisations throughout the world.
Professor Jonathan Corney, Head of Department, said: “We are once again delighted with the creativity, enthusiasm and commitment that our students have shown through their project work.
“It is particularly important that we provide the students with the skills and practical experience to allow them the best possible chance of a successful career, and this showcase gives them exactly that.
“DMEM is an energetic and innovative department and the students deserve credit for embracing that culture and hopefully helping to inspire the next generation of potential students who will come to study at Strathclyde.”
Source: strath, June 28, 2011