An Oxfordshire lab has begun tracking down unexploded wartime bombs in the North Sea to ease future renewable energy projects.
Engineers at HR Wallingford are working with specialists from the University of Rostock in Germany to use their Fast Flow Facility at Howbery Business Park to gather data that could help predict the movement of unexploded ordnance (UXO) drifting in the ocean north of the UK.
Not knowing the precise locations of the lost wartime devices presents a hazard to renewable energy projects during the laying of cables to bring offshore wind energy to the shore.
The facility in Wallingford is one of the largest marine test facilities in the world at 75 metres long and holds a million litres of water.
Professor Richard Whitehouse, chief technical director, said: “Our Fast Flow Facility provides a controlled environment in which to evaluate the effects of currents on full-sized UXO, and so provide the University of Rostock with validated data across a range of flow conditions, burial depths and mobilisation speeds.”
The University of Rostock provided a model of a 1:1 scale 250lb Second World War bomb and other typical unexploded ordnance at 1:2 scale for testing at the facility.
Electricity supplier TenneT has provided funding for the investigation, with Dr Anja Drews adding that the research will improve “safety by quantifying, and thereby minimising, the risk to people and equipment”.
– Owen Hughes