The Lir National Ocean Test Facility (Lir NOTF), located in Ringaskiddy, Cork, is a state-of-the-art test site comprising of wave tank and electrical test infrastructure that allow scaled testing of marine devices and their integration to the electrical grid. The 2,600 m2 facility is part of the Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) Centre. The MaREI Centre combines expertise from a wide range of research groups and industry partners from across Ireland, with the shared mission of solving the main scientific, technical and socio-economic challenges across the marine and renewable energy sectors.
Ireland is actively committed to harnessing its abundant wave, tidal and offshore wind energy resources and is dedicated to developing an indigenous ocean energy industry in the process. A key attribute in the ongoing effort to realise these goals is the continued improvement and expansion of several outstanding test and demonstration facilities covering all Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). Lir NOTF forms a key part of Ireland’s network of test infrastructures supporting testing of devices between TRL 1 – 4. Other test facilities include the Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site located within the confines of Galway Bay and; the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) off the coast of Belmullet, Co. Mayo.
The newly built Lir NOTF consists of four wave test tanks which make use of the latest wave generation paddle layouts and features such as adjustable floors, flow thrusters and towing capabilities. The main piece of testing infrastructure at the test site are:
- Deep Ocean Basin (35m x 12m x 3m deep): has a moveable floor plate to allow the water depth to be adjusted, making it suitable for circa. 1/15th scale operational conditions and 1/50th scale survival waves. Equipped with 16 hinged force feedback paddles capable of a peak wave 1.1m in height.
- Ocean Basin (25m x 18m x 1m deep): used for testing a variety of marine structures (wave energy convertors, floating wind platforms, coastal structures, oil and gas platforms). It has a central section with a depth of 2.5m to assist in the testing of mooring lines.
- Wave and current flume (28m x 3m x 1m deep): a multi-purpose facility with the capability of running separate and combined unidirectional wave and current tests. It has 8 hinged force feedback paddles and three thrusters for generating current speeds of greater than 1 m/s and it is fitted with a towing carriage that can operate at speeds up to 1.5 m/s.
- Microgrid: A dual-bus three phase 400V system consisting of generation, storage and load elements. It can operate in parallel with the local grid or as an islanded system (33 kVA diesel generator, Ocean Energy Convertor Emulator, 5 kWh lithium ion battery storage).
Lir-NOTF provides wave tank testing for scaled models and an important part of that testing procedure is the recording and validation of results. This has led to the integration of an advanced motion capture system at the facility with underwater and motion capture cameras. This system, called the Qualisys measurement system, can accurate measure the positional information generated by a scale model moving throughout the basin/towing tank.
Testing a scale model in a wave tank in simulated sea state conditions and recording the model’s reaction using the motion capture system provides developers with vital experimental data. This information can then be used to predict how a full-scale model of the device will perform at sea and providing useful feedback on the structural quality of the model design.
For further information scaled model testing in Lir-NOTF see http://www.lir-notf.com/.