Industry-Academia Collaboration Target Marine Industry with Next Generation Anchoring Solution
Tidal Anchors Holdings Ltd. are experienced in the maritime industry and recognised the need for a new type of anchor that can be accurately deployed with minimal dragging to embed it. They have developed a new novel anchor from an original idea designed for the safe, secure anchoring of marine craft in tidal waters when a change of direction in tide or wind is experienced. The twin rail design and fluke arrangement ensure immediate and accurate setting, with stability and high holding power in all directions, whichever way the anchor lands on the seabed. Not only does the tidal anchor® offer a superior performance anchoring solution for vessels of all sizes, but also an alternative permanent mooring option to those currently available.
The collaborative research with the ASTUTE 2020 team based at Cardiff University optimised the new anchor to deliver maximum structural performance and suitability for full-scale manufacture. The project’s aim was to evaluate the performance and model key parameters, particularly how it embeds in the sea floor, to determine opportunities for further optimisation of the design and its manufacturability. Anchor design is historically empirical in nature and has seen little recent evolution. Current designs often drag for some distance before engaging sufficiently with the sea floor. This often results in anchors having to be laid several times before they are confidently fixed. This innovative anchor improves the fixing process and can be accurately positioned, eliminating practices such as the deployment of environmentally unfriendly concrete blocks.
Challenges – Wind, Tide and Ease of Manufacture
For the tidal anchor® to deliver superior performance compared to conventional commercially available models, it required optimisation in order to remain stable during the wind and tidal forces experienced by vessels to operate in a variety of seabed conditions. To be commercially viable it also required optimisation for ease of manufacture, particularly eliminating the need for welding, which is a potential source of weakness and corrosion.
Solution - Computational Analysis Techniques and Field Trials
ASTUTE 2020 collaborated with Tidal Anchors Holdings Ltd. using latest computational engineering systems and manufacturing knowledge to determine performance parameters with particular reference to accuracy/repeatability of launch position and embedding final position of the new anchor. Finite element analysis (FEA) revealed that the optimised tidal anchor® is capable of remaining stable during forces of wind and tide experienced under working conditions. Beach and sea trials conducted with Tidal Anchors were used to confirm the FEA results. The resistance of the anchor has been modelled, against a viscous fluid – liquid mercury, and the strength and stiffness of the anchor evaluation led to specification revisions.
A tank testing facility has enabled early feedback from several design iterations. A revised design was finalised by the company and re-modelled (against a viscous fluid) by ASTUTE 2020 for re-evaluation of strength to confirm material properties and dimensions to withstand predicted loads and required safety factors.
Testing of the anchor indicated that it set more reliably than conventional anchors in a shorter length therefore causing less environmental harm to important sea grass vegetation. This major redesign development is still within the criteria of the original patent, which was a very important consideration. In addition, manufacturability was improved and the need for welding as a potential source for weakness and corrosion was eliminated.
Tidal Anchors Holdings Ltd. exhibited and launched their new Tidal Anchor® at Seawork International 2017 held in Southampton. This event is one of Europe’s largest commercial marine and workboat exhibitions regarded as the industry’s one-stop-shop for buyers, legislators and influencers in the marine market. The European Commercial Marine Awards are held at the event and the Tidal Anchor® was ‘Highly Commended’ and awarded runner up in the Marine Engineering and Construction Category.
Tidal Anchors have invested heavily in protecting the IP of the novel design, which has been reviewed for maximum structural performance optimised by ASTUTE 2020.
The new anchor is environmentally friendly, due to its ability to set within its own length; it has been recognised by marine biologists as having potential to significantly reduce damage to organisms on the seabed.
The results of the successful collaboration as well as the excellent reception of the Tidal Anchor® at the Seawork International Exhibition provided the company with the confidence to invest patent applications in numerous countries. To date, and in addition to the UK, seven patents have been granted in overseas territories including Europe, Hong Kong, China, Japan, USA and Australia.