A £2.4 million engineering composite test centre is being developed in Scotland as part of a new industrial partnership between the University of Edinburgh (UoE) and Babcock International.
The ‘state of the art’ FastBlade facility (at Babcock’s Rosyth Dockyard) forms part of the company’s wider plans around innovation, technology and composite research in this area.
Its primary aim is to speed up the development of materials and structures for a variety of industry sectors, including marine, transport, nuclear and aerospace.
It will be the first test facility of its kind in the world designed to carry out large-scale accelerated testing of tidal blades.
) will be the principal engineering designer at the FastBlade centre, which will test new materials in full-scale structures such as tidal blades, aircraft components and bridge sections.
Engineering researchers will use an efficient hydraulic technology that enables structures to be tested significantly faster than with existing technologies — and using less energy.
Neil Young, Babcock technology director, said: “When UoE approached Babcock, it was 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 elsewhere 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 have done
this in partnership with Edinburgh.
“The design also included upgrading the foundations of the building to accommodate the additional loads imposed by the fatigue testing. For us, this really is a great industrial partnership.
"While we are still at the early stages of development, we are creating something that will have real benefits for all the companies using the facility in years to come.”
Funding for the facility has been received in part from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the UoE.
The partnership with UoE complements Babcock’s other industrial partnerships with the universities of Cranfield and Strathclyde, which build on its international presence in through-life engineering, advanced manufacturing, composites and technology.