Biggest ballistic glass test cell delivered

Louise Smyth

An oil and gas developer has taken delivery of the world’s biggest ballistic glass test cell in Scandinavia. The 8m x 8m x 8m high-pressure test cell will be used to test offshore equipment.

Having announced the runaway success of the modular design earlier in 2015, UK manufacturer Boldman has seen demand from across the world for test cells that can safely contain ever larger structures, under test at increasingly extreme pressures.

The new design, manufactured from the Boldman Aluminium Profile System and patented safety glass can be bespoken to suit customer demands. It is seen as a replacement for its heavy steel predecessor both because of vastly improved visibility and because of ease of shipping and installation on-site. With 360° visibility, companies testing equipment can invite their customer to view their equipment live whilst it is under test.

For the Scandinavian project the unprecedentedly large cell was required to test subsea pumps for use around the world. The cell was specified to contain particularly large subsea equipment ­ reflecting a global trend in the offshore industry towards bigger and more complex assets as oilfields become more remote, inaccessible and inhospitable.

Assets such as pumps and Christmas trees are expected to withstand ever increasing extremes of depth, pressure and temperature, hence the cells were designed to withstand a strike from a 34in, two-part BuTech MP fitting under test up to 45,000psi. Slow-motion footage has shown a prototype cell withstanding a 6oz fitting travelling at speeds of up to 400mph, but today’s supersized cell in Scandinavia has been rated at up to 25,000psi.

Now higher specification glass test cells for testing projectiles or components of up to 1kg (2.2lbs) in weight are available.

Nigel Clarke, CEO of Boldman comments: “Our ballistic glass and aluminium structure means that high pressure testing can be clearly and safely viewed by test engineers. Steel structures by comparison rely on cameras and have poor visibility. Our structure brings the tester in front of the cell allowing them to view the pressure testing from all angles. We have tested the impact of projectiles to the extreme and we believe our product is the future of test cells.” 

The BR2 ballistic glass is produced by bonding glass and polycarbonate together under heat and pressure, resulting in excellent optical quality and spall free protection that does not eject any glass onto the safe side.

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