The HarshLab laboratory with improved features and capabilities unique in Europe will be able to test equipment in operation on board, thanks to its electrical and data connection, and to lower samples to the seabed.
Since 2018, Basque companies have been able to use a laboratory to test materials and solutions in a real offshore environment, developed by the TECNALIA research and technological development centre with the support of the Basque Government and the Basque Country Energy Cluster whose member is the Basque Country Energy Agency.
The first version of HarshLab was developed as a result of the HARSH project launched in 2016 with the aim of providing a solution to the challenges that have arisen among the different Basque companies due to the “marinisation” of their energy business lines towards offshore environments. During its development until 2019, the participating companies made significant advances in the improvement of the design and resistance of materials for marine environments, the optimisation of O&M systems and in the improvement of their manufacturing processes.
The launch of the first HarshLab in 2018 was a definitive breakthrough for the offshore industry in Europe and since then, it has provided services to more than 20 companies, testing more than 500 specimens and samples related to new materials and solutions against corrosion, ageing or fouling in the marine environment (the phenomenon by which solid material adheres and accumulates on submerged elements or elements in contact with seawater: algae, mussels, limpets, among others).
Like its predecessor, this new version, will allow trials and tests of new materials and developments for the offshore industry to be carried out in a real environment and under controlled conditions. As a new feature, it will be connected to the electrical and communications network thanks to a dynamic cable that will connect it to Biscay Marine Energy Platform‘s (BiMEP) underwater network, which will allow data collection and subsequent analysis. This connection gives the HarshLab the possibility of testing equipment in operation onboard and facilitates the handling of loads through various onboard systems: hydraulic crane, external davit and internal hoists.
This laboratory will make it possible to evaluate what happens to materials, components and equipment when they are submerged, in the atmospheric zone (above the water), in what is known as the splash zone (where the wave breaks) and on the seabed. Until now, this information has been obtained from laboratory tests, but the results are not always extrapolated to what actually happens when they are at sea. In this way, companies can reliably predict how the different systems to be used in a marine environment are going to behave, for research and development of new solutions and technologies for the offshore industry, which has an impact on their safety and extends their life cycle.