The German-based Fraunhofer IWES is studying the installation of suction bucket foundations and their tensile behavior at the Test Center for Support Structures at the Leibniz Universität Hannover.
The testing is being carried out at a foundation test pit which provides homogeneous testing conditions, as well as a sandy model seabed representative of those typically found in the North Sea.
The bucket foundation used represents a bucket for a jacket support structure and measures 1.4 meters in diameter.
During the installation process, the steel cylinder was sunk just over a meter into the saturated sand. Once the bucket has been in position for a few days, the tensile load tests will begin, which will be used to simulate the effects of extreme waves on the structure in the foundation test pit.
“It is extremely important to monitor the negative pressure closely so as to avoid damaging the seabed and ensure the bucket remains level. For this reason, separate chambers are employed in the bucket during offshore installations, with the aim of regulating the pressure,” said IWES Project Manager Tulio Quiroz.
The demonstration project is expected to help IWES researchers expand their expertise in the field, while the gathered experience will be made available to industry partners in the scope of research projects.
According to Fraunhofer IWES, the installation of suction buckets is an environmentally friendly process with no pile driving noise, it is completely reversible, and has the advantage that no heavy installation equipment needs to be deployed offshore. In addition, a prepared support structure with buckets can be installed in only one day.