The ARC AK-1000 is a prototype 1MW tidal turbine. It is set to be installed at the EMEC test site in the Orkney Islands in 2015.

The installation site is in 35m of water with a rough sandstone seabed. A design for a steel gravity base was required in order to support the turbine and associated mechanical equipment.

The strong tidal currents and exposure to ocean waves made the site a challenging one. Operation of the 18m diameter turbine imposes substantial hydrodynamic forces on the supporting structure. Careful attention was required to ensure that the support structure would resist the imposed environmental loads and operational loading over the intended design life. Design to DNV code to meet requirements for strength, fatigue and installation.

Robert Bird Group also provided assistance in determining design hydrodynamic loading, and undertook partial redesign of the turbine to substructure connection, requiring non-linear contact FEA analysis.

1mw Turbine
Atlantis Resources Corporation
Robert Bird Group Services:
Structural Engineering

Key technical challenges

  • The primary tower structure consists of a composite slab and beam structure. Due to the long beam spans and thin slab, extensive analysis for footfall vibration was required to ensure the structure achieved code requirements and client expectations.
  • Working with the existing structure and developing design solutions that strengthened rather than demolished.
  • Extensive co-ordination with the mechanical engineer to develop a strategy that minimised beam penetrations and beam notches.
  • Differential shortening analysis with consideration of mega truss, steel structure, concrete structure and existing structural elements

Environmental performance

  • 5 Star Greenstar
  • 5 Star NABERs Energy and 4 Star NABERs Water ratings.

Key technical innovation

  • Design of mega column and mega piles to resist the large concentrated truss loads. Specialised piling rigs were required to construct the 2100mm diameter mega piles required to resist the truss loads.
  • Developing a strategy to resist the mega truss uplift forces with the use of special high strength reinforcement.
  • To maximise the office floor column grids, HISTAR 460 HD columns were adopted in the design. Column cross sections are relatively small with thick web and flanges, as large as 140mm thick. HD Columns are fabricated and transported from Luxembourg.

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