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MultiEnvironment Air Cushion Oil Spill Fast Response & Post Emergency Remediation System

Final Report Summary - HOVERSPILL (Multienvironment air cushion oil spill fast response and post emergency remediation system)

Executive Summary:

The HOVERSPILL project is a milestone in the development of solutions for oil spill response and remediation activities. The project achieved important new knowledge for technical activities and valuable know-how for commercial usage. HOVERSPILL air cushion vehicle (ACV) and the oil-water separator (Turbylec) that were designed and realised is the result of 42 months of research and development (R&D) based on the outstanding, plus the experience of the partners in more than 20 years of activity in building hovercrafts for amphibious services and in fluid mechanics. Being the HOVERSPILL an innovative vehicle operating in emergency situations, an in-depth preliminary analysis was essential. This study dealt with different existing methodologies about oil spill's intervention and the possible applications of the hovercraft.

The overview on existing hovercrafts operating in this field revealed some critical issues and limits, such as the need of an intuitive piloting system in order to operate in emergency situations, the necessity of moving the vehicle in an environment with possible rocks and other objects on the water surface without dangerous consequences for the vehicle itself and the requirement of a moving and versatile platform capable of transporting and loading different devices and equipments. This was the phase where key decisions were made, therefore the idea of developing a new soft-hull, the separated lift system and a flat deck emerged from this analysis.

The technical and executive design led to the first prototype of HOVERSPILL where ad-hoc parts were built and provided by partners of the Consortium and other suppliers. Subsequently all the components were separately tested and problems were fixed individually before the assembling phase.

Once fully assembled, the final HOVERSPILL vehicle and Turbylec prototypes were tested on field to assess the compliance of the requirements defined during design phases. The feedback received by the members of the Consortium and operators were highly satisfactory.

Innovative results

Soft hull which consists of a sandwich structure composed of two main parts:

1. an elastic hull said soft-skin
2. a more rigid structure.

The soft-skin is hull made of foam (soft part) covered by a thin layer of polyethylene (the skin). The two parts are kept together by a system of ties that gives compactness to the structure and creates the connection between the bottom and the rigid structure.

The rigid structure is therefore a main frame which scopes is both supporting the main systems, the outfitting and the crew and creating the canalisation for lift air.

The multi air cushion platform (MACP) represents one of the most interesting and unexpected result of the project. Actually it represents a breakthrough in the hovercraft sector because it combines all the innovative characteristics of the soft-skin hull with the advantage of modular propulsion system (MPS) resulting in a very modular structure which allows MACP to be used in different context and scenarios. MACP enables the HOVERSPILL vehicle becoming the Swiss army knife of the environment.

UNIK driving system permits to realise curves with a very low radius of curvature. UNIK makes piloting completely different from other hovercrafts' techniques and special operations are easy to be performed.

Turbylec is a new concept of high tech second stage oil-water separator entrained by a high pressure, small size and lightweight hydraulic motor. For 20% inlet oil cut, residual hydrocarbon (HC) content at water outlet is limited to 600 ppm, which can be considered as very satisfactory for application to the HOVERSPILL project. These very good performances are maintained for inlet oil cut up to 25% approximately. In this range of operating conditions the separator cut diameter has been evaluated between 50 µm and 70 µm.