Maintenance free, passive sonar locator system

Paul Boughton
SALT, with help from Avon Rubber plc and ARTIS, has launched a sonar locator system, the SonarBell.

The SonarBell is a maintenance free, passive sonar locator system, that operates by focusing energy like a lens to amplify sound levels and reflect them to the sender. Looking like a bowling ball, it utilises the two materials of its shell and core to create a constructive interference that delivers a higher return signal to the end user. The device is ‘solid state’ with no moving parts or power requirements, and is compatible with existing commercial sonar sets.

The SonarBell has been designed for applications such as installing and locating deepwater pipelines, undersea telephone and internet cables and marking international boundaries quicker and more efficiently – functions that have previously been difficult and costly. The target market therefore includes industries like oil and gas, telecommunications, defence and environmental organisations.

This new system was pioneered by SALT (Subsea Asset Location Technologies Ltd). Carl Tiltman, Technical Director at SALT, explains: “Having spent many years contributing to military requirements to reduce underwater sonar signatures, the scientists at Dstl turned their knowledge of this area on its head to develop a passive device that was ‘as loud as possible’ when exposed to an incoming signal.”

To bring this product to the manufacturing stage, ARTIS, part of Avon Rubber plc, were given the task of analysing and selecting the correct combination of materials due to their high levels of expertise in this area.

Martyn Bennett, Research and Development Manager for ARTIS, explains: “The materials selection for this product was a key consideration given not only the depth and range it is required to go to, but also the fact that it needs to be able to deflect a large enough signal to be recognised by its end users. We therefore researched and analysed many different mixes of materials to come up with the best solution. Having found the right combination, we then helped to carry out numerous quality control tests during the manufacturing stages to make certain that it was completely fit for purpose.”

Finally, the manufacture of the SonarBell nwas given to Avon Rubber plc. to complete. Justin Hine, Business Development Manager at Avon, says: "Each individual bell has to be manufactured to the highest quality standards, meaning significant amounts of testing and trials have taken place to ensure its durability under the most stringent of scenarios. Here at Avon, we have been able to manufacture a revolutionary omni-directional sonar locating device that does not require huge amounts of maintenance, and will save users both time and money in what are currently difficult times.”

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