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Development of a Low Cost Ceramic Buoyancy Sphere

Objective

Oil and gas exploration is being carried out in ever deeper water, as more readily-exploitable reserves become depleted. And whilst previously uneconomical deep-water oilfields are now becoming financially viable, accessing them remains difficult due to the technical challenges associated with extreme operating conditions.

When working in water at depths of up to 5000m the water pressure is above 500atm. Components and systems for extracting oil and gas need to be neutrally buoyant, in order to maintain them in the desired position. Buoyancy modules for drill risers used in exploration lines are currently made from syntactic foams using micro and macro-spheres. Macro-spheres offer buoyancy advantages, but become increasingly unreliable at greater depths due to manufacturing inconsistencies. A typical deep-water buoyancy module will contain thousands of tightly packed spheres, and when a buoyancy module fails this can necessitate costly repairs and lead to environmental harm

The current technology for buoyancy modules operating at less than 3km uses spheres made of Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) balls which are then coated with a shell of epoxy resin. The epoxy coating acts as the load bearing structure withstanding water pressure. Spheres from each batch are pressure tested and rated for performance which determines the depth at which the batch can be used

This proposal concerns development of a perfectly spherical, low-cost coated ceramic macrosphere manufacturing process. The ceramic spheres will be designed and manufactured in more than one size for improved packing density and rated for higher compressive strength allowing use at greater depths. A further development of this project is to address the sphere contact issues within the current syntactic foams. Point contact between spheres can contribute to failure from stress concentrations. We propose to coat the higher strength ceramic spheres with an elastomeric resin, reducing stress and the risk of failure.

Field of science

  • /engineering and technology/materials engineering/coating and films
  • /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels/fossil energy/gas

Call for proposal

FP7-SME-2013
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

BSG-SME - Research for SMEs

Coordinator

MOULDED FOAMS LTD
Address
Wardpark Road, Wardpark South 1
G67 3EX Glasgow
United Kingdom
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
EU contribution
€ 244 523,89
Administrative Contact
John Thornberry (Mr.)

Participants (6)

Plasto AS
Norway
EU contribution
€ 260 835,13
Address
Oran Ost
6300 Andalsnes
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Lars Stenerud (Mr.)
DE CAVIS AG
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 265 282,57
Address
Wolfgang Pauli Strasse 10
8093 Zurich
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Urs Thomas Gonzenbach (Dr.)
ALMATH CRUCIBLES LIMITED
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 271 642,41
Address
The Running Horse Industrial Estate Epsom Building Unit 2 A
CB8 9NE Burrough Green
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Zophia Turowska (Mrs.)
TRELLEBORG OFFSHORE UK LIMITED
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 39 750
Address
Stanley Way Stanley Way Industrial
WN8 8EA Skelmersdale Lancashire
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Dave Williams (Mr.)
THE UK MATERIALS TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE LIMITED
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 12 738
Address
Middle Aston House
OX25 5PT Middle Aston
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
David Cartlidge (Mr.)
EIDGENOSSISCHE MATERIALPRUFUNGS- UND FORSCHUNGSANSTALT
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 16 228
Address
Ueberlandstrasse 129
8600 Dubendorf
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Jakob Kuebler (Mr.)