One of the final frontiers left to be discovered was the bottom of the world’s oceans, until recently...
The world’s first successful manned submersible expedition to the deepest point in each of the world’s five oceans, The Five Deeps Expedition, covered 47,000 nautical miles in just 10 months, and completed 39 dives including at depths of over 10,000m.
The manned submersible vessel, the Triton 36000/2 Full Ocean Depth (FOD) Submersible, was not only used for exploring places never visited before, including the deepest point on planet Earth: the Challenger Deep within the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, but also technical capability verification and scientific missions.
A huge amount of collaboration to support the overriding aim for the manned submersible to undertake repeated dives to full ocean depths was required for the development of the submersible.
Trelleborg’s applied technologies operation was integral to the development, working with the submersible builder to create unique buoyancy modules made from individual blocks of raw materials created specifically for ultradeep high pressure environments. Manufactured from full ocean depth material TG11500, a 11500-meter rated low density high performance syntactic foam made up a sizable proportion of the overall body of the vessel.
Each block of raw material underwent extensive in-house testing in Trelleborg’s recently upgraded laboratory for water absorption and Hydrostatic Crush Pressure testing at its facility in Rochdale, England. Completed modules were then successfully tested at the Krylov test centre in St Petersburg, Russia, and signed off by DNVGL.
The design, manufacture and engineering capabilities and the combined efforts of the development team, produced a truly world class vessel, able to make five dives in the Mariana Trench in just 10 days. To make Victor Vescovo’s, an American extreme explorer and the initiator and sub pilot of the Five Deeps Expedition, project possible, took three years of intensive efforts from some of the world’s leading oceanographers, submarine engineers and scientists.
The Five Deeps Expedition has set Trelleborg on course to further develop and expand its syntactic foam range to include new materials purely for ultra-deep-water high-pressure environments.
Trelleborg’s unique buoyancy modules manufactured specifically for the Triton 36000/2 FOD Submersible are made from Eccofloat® materials.
Eccofloat® composite foams provide high performance and ultra-low densities by selecting only the highest specification hollow glass microspheres, and combining them within a rigid, high-strength resin system, overcoming the issue of weight for deep sea exploration.
Designed for use in the manufacture of unmanned vehicles and resident ROVs that remain garaged on the seabed in ultra-deep water for long periods of time, the Eccofloat® range can be readily shaped to custom configurations and large buoyancy modules.
Incorporating Eccofloat® materials into unmanned vehicle and ROV manufacturing significantly reduces the density and weight of the buoyancy, whilst providing the highest strength to weight ratio to meet the ultra-deep-water environment demands of both strength and weight.