SIGMA Upgrades National Ohmsett Testing Facility in Leonardo, NJ
Oil spills in waterways or the Gulf of Mexico are serious business and call for innovative water cleaning technologies. To test emerging technologies for oil spill clean up, many turn to the Ohmsett National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility, located in Leonardo, New Jersey – right on the Raritan Bay about one hour south of New York City. Sigma Design Company of Middlesex New Jersey (SIGMA) was awarded a contract to lead the upgrade of the Ohmsett Test Facility.
The Ohmsett National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility is the largest outdoor saltwater wave/tow tank facility in North America. This is the only facility where full-scale oil spill response equipment testing, research, and training can be conducted in a marine environment with oil under controlled environmental conditions (waves and oil types). The Ohmsett Test Facility is maintained and operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
Recently the Ohmsett Test Facility served as the test site of more than seven different systems that competed for a first prize of $1.4 million in the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE for highly effective oil spill cleanup methods. The facility also has the mission as a research and testing venue for wave energy conversion devices.
With such increased levels of activity, the 50 year old Ohmsett Test Facility needed an upgrade and critical components needed improvement, especially the test platform – which is affectionately called the Aux Bridge.
Unique in many ways, the Ohmsett test platform is a hybrid bridge/test platform – that is 70 feet long and weighs 35,000 lbs. Test systems are towed through the seawater tank, which is 650 feet long, 65 feet wide and 12 feet deep. The lab can also create 2 to 3 foot waves to better simulate open water challenges in firefighting and oil spill clean up.
After a competitive bidding process, SIGMA was awarded an engineering contract to design and manage the construction, as the owner’s representative, of a new test platform for Ohmsett. The major design challenges were to develop a larger test structure that was safer, easier to use allowing quicker operational set ups while reducing the overall weight, and increasing operational test load capacity.
SIGMA analyzed, designed and managed every part of the new testing system by using 3D design software, FEA structural analysis methods and mechanical engineering competencies. The platform was validated by: 1) alignment testing – to ensure “she” rolls straight when pulled 6 knots; 2) load testing- with over 80,000 lbs; and finally 3) operational testing – while being pulled 6 knots through seawater tank.
With the completed installation and acceptance of the new test platform in January 2012, the Ohmsett Test Facility is ready to serve oil spill clean up and wave energy technology testing needs for many years to come.
Sigma Design Company – Solution Analysis, Design and Construction/Installation Management