Composite test site to be developed

Louise Davis

A £2.4 million state of the art engineering composite test centre is being developed in Scotland as part of a new industrial partnership between the University of Edinburgh and Babcock.

The Fastblade facility will be based at Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard and forms part of the Group’s wider plans around innovation, technology and composite research in the area. Fastblade’s primary aim is to speed the development of materials and structures for a variety of industries, including those in marine, transport, nuclear and aerospace sectors.
It will be the first test facility of its kind in the world designed to carry out large-scale accelerated testing of tidal blades. Testing will use complex forces that simulate real environments, limiting the risks for product developers.
Engineering researchers will use an efficient hydraulic technology that enables structures to be tested significantly faster and using less energy compared with existing technologies. The system will recover energy between load cycles, reducing the cost of testing.
Neil Young, a Technology Director within Babcock has been involved from the project’s concept. He said: “When UoE approached Babcock they were looking for specialist facilities and engineering design expertise to help get the project from research application to reality. At Rosyth, we had both these key requirements, which were not available anywhere else in a single location. Our focus has been to optimise the design of the reaction frame to which the composite structure is mounted, and we’ve done this in partnership with Edinburgh.”
Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Head of School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, and leader of the research activity, added: “This collaboration is an opportunity to develop a world-class engineering facility to accelerate and support the development of new efficient technologies, and will be a great benefit to the tidal energy sector.”
Funding for the facility has been received in part from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and University of Edinburgh. 

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