Queens University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast (QUB) has a range of test facilities including a Belfast Wave Tank, Portaferry Wide Wave Basin, Wave Demonstration Site and Tidal Demonstration Site.

Queen's University Belfast's Large Wave Tank has six force feedback sector carrier wave-makers which can generate waves in water depths of 0.4 to 0.8m. The Edinburgh Designs Ltd wave-makers can generate both regular and irregular waves which are absorbed by a 1 in 17 slope folded geo-textile beach located at the opposite end of the tank from the wave makers.  The tank, which can be completely filled and drained in under an hour, has adjustable floor allowing for tests to be carried out at various water depths.

  • Length of tank (m) 22         
  • Temperature control No
  • Width of tank (m) 4.75             
  • Lifting capacity (Tonnes) 2.7
  • Depth of tank (m) 1
  • Maximum tidal flow (m/s)
  • Fluid type Water
  • Maximum wave height (m) 0.5
  • Minimum wave period (s) 0.7

The facility, whilst being located in central Belfast, can be easily accessed via the city's ring road. It is located half an hours drive from the Belfast's airports and sea port and two hours drive from Dublin.

The Queen's University Belfast wide wave basin measures approximately 18m x 16m with up to 650mm water depth and is used primarily for high quality testing of wave effects on both on-shore and off-shore structures and devices. The facility is located at the QUB Marine Laboratory in Portaferry, Northern Ireland and was designed for optimisation of wave homogeneity within the wave basin and to ensure minimisation of secondary wave effects on tests undertaken. A 12m wide bank of 24 independently controlled Edinburgh Designs sector-carrier force-feedback wave paddles allows the generation of both long and short crested, uni-directional or multi-directional sea states at one end of the wave basin whilst absorbing any reflected waveforms. Waveforms may be generated which consist of either a single wave frequency or indeed any user defined frequency spectra encompassing frequencies within the operational constraints of the wave-maker. Wave absorbing beaches present on the remaining 3 sides ensure generally less than 5% energy reflection under normal operating conditions and minimise any effect of cross waves which are often present in other tanks. This makes the Portaferry wave basin particularly useful in the testing of directional sea states, radiating structures or devices and in particular arrays of structures or devices. The current DAQ system can accept up to 120 individual input transducer signals alongside up to 40 measures of instantaneous wave height at a given position. A DAQ system update is currently being applied and is expected to be completed by January 2015 which will significantly increase the number of measurements which can be made. Automated wave probe calibration and a motorized gantry assist in providing ease of testing for users and allow the use of either free-standing, fixed or floating models. A system of recirculating pumps and flow baffles allows the generation of tidal currents at any reasonable position within the basin and a removable false floor offers a wide array of potential bathymetry options. The tank is facilitated by both a mechanical and electrical engineering workshop, which may provide assistance to users. A recent uncertainty analysis completed showed the wave basin to generate waveforms with generally less than 1.5mm spatial variation in wave heights across a 6mx3m operational area in the centre of the tank. Validated numerical modelling of the facility is also available to assist users in the planning stages of their experiments to ensure maximum impact is achieved during testing.

Tank Specifications

  • Length of tank (m) 18
  • Temperature control No
  • Width of tank (m) 16
  • Lifting capacity (Tonnes) 1
  • Depth of tank (m) 0.65
  • Maximum tidal flow (m/s) 0.5
  • Fluid type Fresh water
  • Maximum wave height (m) 0.125
  • Tidal and Wave
  • Minimum wave period (s) 0.75

Close (<2 km) to the tidal test centre at Portaferry, is the wave test site at Marlfield Bay to simulate test-scale conditions. The bathymetry has been well mapped and the natural variation in wave conditions at various locations permits scaled (approx. 1/10th) tests of full-scale wave devices (either floating or fixed) that are designed for specific operating conditions. There is a comprehensive inventory of oceanographic instrumentation (ADCP, ADV, Underwater Data Transmission, Underwater Video) available and specialised software is available for data analysis. The QUB Marine laboratory facility at Portaferry provides logistical backup and office space during testing as well as experienced staff with expert knowledge of Strangford Lough and operating procedures therein.

Site Specifications:

  • Maximum tidal flow (m/s)
  • Power connection (V)
  • Maximum wave height (m) 0.5
  • Power connection (MW)
  • Minimum water depth (m) 7
  • Maximum water depth (m) 12
  • Number of berths 2

QUB has a Marine Science laboratory at Portaferry. The tidal test centre uses specific locations within Strangford Lough to simulate full-scale conditions.  The Lough has been in use since 2004 for the full-scale tidal energy research. The test site is located on the eastern shore of Strangford Lough which is a large (150km²) shallow sea lough situated on the east coast of County Down, Northern Ireland. The southern entrance to the Lough is a deep channel about 8km long, called the Narrows and approximately a third of the Lough is inter-tidal. From Portaferry across the Narrows to Strangford is just 0.5km with an associated current regime that is extremely strong and fast - up to 8 knots (4m/s). The bathymetric profile of the Lough and the variation in current profiles at various locations permits scaled (approx. 1/10th) tests of full-scale tidal devices (either floating or fixed) that are designed for specific operating conditions (depth, current, wave interaction, tidal range etc).

The facility is unique in Europe due to range of scaled tidal conditions to suit a large range of device configurations and location and ease of access (1 hour from Belfast International Airport). Standard services include warehouse building, slipway, moorings, boats (1 ton lift capacity on boat), barge and manufacturing/fabrication facilities. There is a comprehensive inventory of Oceanographic instrumentation (ADCP, ADV, Underwater Data Transmission, Underwater Video) available and specialised software is available for data analysis. QUB has a Marine Science laboratory facility at Portaferry that provides logistical backup and office space during testing. and experienced staff with expert knowledge of Strangford Lough and operating procedures therein.

Research activities in the infrastructure to date have concentrated on resource assessment, environmental impact assessments, turbulence-related monitoring techniques and scaled tidal array testing. A concurrent project involving the installation of a 1.2MW full-scale tidal turbine (Marine Current Turbines TM, www.marineturbines.com) has provided a unique opportunity for research in this area and a direct link to desired research at model-scale.

Access to the site is available by road via flights or ferries to Belfast (1hr 20min drive) or Dublin (2hr 30min).

Queen's University Marine Laboratory,

Portaferry,

Co. Down,

Northern Ireland,

BT22 1PF.


Contact: Bjoern Elsaesser

Title: Senior Lecturer & Facility Manager


Tel: +44-2890-974045

Email: b.elsaesser@qub.ac.uk

Queens University Belfast Large Wave Tank

Queens University Belfast Large Wave Tank image

Queens University Belfast large wave tank test facility. Tank specifications include:

  • Length of tank (m) 22         
  • Temperature control No
  • Width of tank (m) 4.75             
  • Lifting capacity (Tonnes) 2.7
  • Depth of tank (m) 1
  • Maximum tidal flow (m/s)
  • Fluid type Water
  • Maximum wave height (m) 0.5
  • Minimum wave period (s) 0.7

Portaferry Wide Wave Basin

Portaferry Wide Wave Basin image

Tank Specifications:

  • Length of tank (m) 18
  • Temperature control No
  • Width of tank (m) 16
  • Lifting capacity (Tonnes) 1
  • Depth of tank (m) 0.65
  • Maximum tidal flow (m/s) 0.5
  • Fluid type Fresh water
  • Maximum wave height (m) 0.125
  • Tidal and Wave
  • Minimum wave period (s) 0.75

Queens University Belfast Strangford Lough Tidal Test Site

Queens University Belfast Strangford Lough Tidal Test Site image

Queens University Belfast Tidal Test Site in Strangford Lough near Portaferry Co. Down Northern Ireland.