The Irish Government has awarded a €2.9M (US$3.5M) grant in support of a new construction method for offshore foundations and anchors
The companies behind the technology believe it has the potential to benefit the offshore wind industry by significantly reducing costs and reducing environmental impact.
The project consortium developing the concept includes Irish companies Mincon Group and Subsea Micropiles, along with research centres at the University of Limerick and University College of Dublin.
The project will include the development of a robotic seabed drilling system along with the installation and testing of marine anchors using micropile technology, with initial tests taking place by mid-2022.
Prototype demonstration will be an important milestone towards a solution that is ready for commercial projects by 2023.
Micropiling is widely used as a foundation and anchoring solution for onshore infrastructure. Recent advances in underwater robotics could open the door for low-cost micropiling to be used in the vast market for offshore piling and anchoring.
Subsea Micropiles chief executive Derek Robertson said, “The grant-funded project provides a focus for the industry to address the pressing need for more cost-effective and environmentally sympathetic solutions to support the growth of offshore wind and other applications.”
The first use of micropiles dates back to the early 1950s in Italy, where new methods of underpinning buildings were needed to restore historic monuments and structures.
Dr Fernando Lizzi is commonly recognised as the inventor of micropiles in the form of the tree root pile or ‘palo-radice.’ Inspired by nature, his aim was to mimic the ability of tree root structures to modify the engineering properties of soil with great efficiency.
According to Subsea Micropiles, for subsea applications, a robotic seabed drill is used to install and grout micropile anchor foundations. Mimicking the root piles of trees, the group response of multiple piles represents a highly efficient distributed anchor solution, capable of withstanding significant axial and horizontal loads.
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