Nicholls-Lee, R.F., Boyd, S.W. and Turnock, S.R.
Use of cryogenic buoyancy systems for controlled removal of heavy objects from the seabed.
In, ASME 28th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, OMAE 2009, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA,
American Society Of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)10pp.
The concept design of a lightweight cryogenic marine heavy lift buoyancy system has been investigated. The approach makes use of a novel cryogenic system for provision of buoyancy within the ocean environment. The objective is to be able to lift or lower large displacement objects under full remote control. The nature of subsea lifting and lowering operations requires a high degree of precise control for operational safety, reasons and to preserve the structural integrity of the load. The lift operation occurs in two phases: Development of lift to overcome seabed suction, and then rapid reduction of buoyancy to maintain a controlled ascent. Descent involves controlled release of the buoyancy. The proposed buoyancy system consists of a buoyancy chamber and an integral cryogenic gas generation unit. The application of an on-board gas generation unit allows the removal of the engineering challenges associated with use of compressors and the concomitant complex manifold of connecting umbilical pipe work. It provides for a fully remote system completely eliminating all risk associated with extensive physical surface to subsea connection throughout the entire lift operation.
The opening stages of the project work include the development of a system that will operate efficiently and effectively to a depth of 350m. An initial general arrangement for the buoyancy system has been developed. A number of these systems involve considerable design and development, these include: structural design of the buoyancy chamber, mechanical systems to control and connection to the lift device, the cryogenic system itself and overall process control systems. As part of the design process for such an arrangement, numerical simulation of the complete system has been undertaken in order to develop mechanical, cryogenic and process control systems efficiently and effectively. This system simulation has been developed using Matlab Simulink. This paper considers the overall design concept and associated system development issues. These are illustrated through use of the time accurate simulation of alternative design configurations that confirm the viability of the concept. A main conclusion is that minimisation of the dry weight of the system is critical to cost-effective operation of the project.
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