Research and development
Knowledge development and knowledge sharing have taken on a wider significance with the new organizational structure. We continue to make targeted investments in applied and scientific research and in the development of new techniques that put us ahead. In addition, where possible we try to foster cross-pollination between our activities. In some cases this results in new insights and applications, or in the refinement of existing techniques.
Cutting hard soil
Boskalis conducts targeted research into how to use existing equipment to work as sustainably and efficiently as possible. We are expanding our knowledge into techniques for applying cutter technology to the cutting of very hard soil. Our Research & Development department is engaged in research into the use of a so-called strong rock cutter, a cutter head for dredging very hard rock. The new technique is being applied on a project in Qatar and is proving successful. It is realistic to presume that this technique can compete as an alternative to traditional drilling and blasting, a method used up until now for loosening very hard subsoil. We have demonstrated that this new technique enables us to cut off small pieces of rock and to perform very controlled work. We remove no more soil than is necessary. The technique also produces less noise than the traditional use of explosives.
Soil press at Offshore Energy
We have also identified opportunities for applying our knowledge of and experience with the dredging process to our new Offshore Energy activities. A good example is the ballasting of the foundations of offshore platforms (so-called gravity-based structures) to stabilize them on the seabed. This is done by filling the foundations, for example with iron ore. We use soil press technology to ensure that the offshore foundations achieve a good level of filling. The soil press is used on dredging projects where there are significant differences in height. In the offshore industry these height differences are substantial: in some cases a foundation has to be filled at a depth of 200 meters. To demonstrate that this work method is fit for purpose we conducted tests involving the pumping of iron ore. These tests and models demonstrated that we are able to successfully execute the filling process in a controlled manner. The soil press will be used on forthcoming installation projects, including the installation of foundations for offshore wind turbines.
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