The buoyancy solution needed to be strong, light and able to withstand high pressures at considerable depths of 11,500 meters. As such, Trelleborg launched Project High Performance Low Density (HPLD), which involved the development, proving, manufacture and qualification of low density composites - or syntactic foam to be specific - capable of performing in high hydrostatic pressures and harsh subsea environments.
Brian Richardson, QHSE Manager within Trelleborg’s AEM operation, says: “Global demand for subsea equipment to operate in ever deeper seawater depths has dramatically increased in the past 50 years. Exploration depths have moved from 150 meters in the North Sea, to the deepest known location on the planet; the Marianas Trench at 11,500 meters. Consequently, the requirement for low density syntactic materials capable of withstanding the extreme hydrostatic pressures at these depths has become greater.
“By utilizing appropriate material selection, innovative chemistry, formulation techniques and engineering ingenuity, our first product was approved in 2010 that was capable of operating in 2,000 meters of sea water. Further products soon followed, quickly making us a reputable supplier of low density, high performance, and high quality syntactic materials. And to be recognized for our innovation with a Composites UK award is a significant achievement.”
Within four years from project inception, a family of innovative subsea syntactic foam materials has been developed, qualified, manufactured and successfully marketed by Trelleborg. In addition, Project HPLD has generated 30 new jobs in the local Northwest area ranging from design engineering, sales, production, planning and materials. This allows the business to produce buoyancy from design to the final product all in-house.