Preparing for harsh conditions
The Arctic is poised to be a strategic location of research and industrial activity in the near future. Offshore oil and gas, shipping and fishing companies will need to know how the harsh conditions will affect valuable equipment and tools, making a project such as Sustainable Technology for Polar Ships and Structures (Steps2) a valuable and essential piece of research.
The Steps2 project is leading research that could play a large role in the way companies and individuals approach working in the Arctic. The researchers of Steps2 seek to significantly improve the understanding of high energy collisions between marine ice and steel structures, while gaining an improved knowledge of the resistance and/or failure characteristics of man-made structures under high loads from ice.
The project aims to develop validated practical tools that will permit the safe design and assessment of ships and offshore structures for arctic conditions.
Claude Daley, chair of ocean and naval architectural engineering with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial University, is the principal researcher on the Steps2 project. He and a team of graduate and undergraduate researchers have been conducting an extensive set of laboratory experiments covering ice crushing, structural response to ice loads and the hydrodynamics of ice blocks.
"These experiments will be used to validate high performance computer (HPC) models. The HPC models, developed on several software platforms, will then be used to model and examine full-scale ice loading scenarios on both ships and structures," Mr. Daley explained. "With the experience and results from these HPC scenario simulations, we can create simple and robust design and assessment tools that can be used by industry."
Given the harsh conditions in the Arctic, it is understandably a difficult location in which to conduct research. As a result, Mr. Daley and his team of researchers are relying heavily on the use of the high performance computer models. According to Mr. Daley, the HPC models produce accurate and important research data that is vital to the Steps2 project.
"Development of computers and software is enabling increasingly sophisticated numerical simulations of ice-structure interactions," Mr. Daley said. "Improved ice load models will be implemented using High Performance Computing, validated with laboratory tests and full scale data."
As the project progresses, the results of the team's experiments will combine to support and verify the future phases of Steps2. For the graduate and undergraduate researchers taking part in the project, the experience will prove to be very beneficial.
"A significant number of individuals will gain new knowledge and experience in the issues, challenges and methods to permit sustainable projects in the arctic offshore," Mr. Daley said.
Steps2 is a five-year project that is funded by the Atlantic Innovation Fund, the Research and Development Corporation, Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Husky Energy, ABS Precision Ltd., BMT Group Ltd., and Samsung.