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191111 | Cornwall is a hotbed for marine tech and is leading the world in it


Cornwall is a hotbed for marine tech and is leading the world in it

There are many businesses doing innovative things on a global scale

Marine tech is one of Cornwall's success stories (Image: RelaxFoto.de /iStock)

Cornwall is a hotbed of industry and marine tech is one of the areas where the region is a world leader – creating innovative and exciting products.

Whether it is harnessing the power of the sea, creating robot boats, improving fishing or new ways of designing vessels, there are hundreds of companies doing incredible work.

The sector has high growth potential, with Cornwall accounting for around 8 percent of UK marine industry turnover and 1 in 7 of all UK marine jobs, and is seen as a key priority.

Marine-i is a programme designed to help the marine technology sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly grow through research, development and innovation in marine energy, marine manufacturing, maritime operations and marine environmental technologies.

Plymouth University's Marine Innovation Centre has been involved in helping many of the projects

The £9.3 million collaboration is between University of Exeter, University of Plymouth, Cornwall College Group, Cornwall Marine Network, Cornwall Development Company and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.

“We have a vision of Cornwall as a global leader for research, technology development and expertise and as the location of choice for businesses engaged in marine renewables technologies and the associated supply chain,” said Professor Lars Johanning from the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus, who leads the Marine-i initiative.

The Marine-i team

“From day one, we have set out to help businesses embrace the emerging opportunities that will define the global marine sector to 2030 and beyond.

Marine-i says marine technology will be transformed as a new wave of innovation exploiting the full potential of our oceans in ways that were previously not possible.

Professor Lars Johanning from the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus

“Getting the most from these new technologies will demand new ways of thinking and new levels of collaboration across different scientific and technical disciplines," added Lars.

Earlier this month Marine-i celebrated its successes at a Marine Tech Transformers event at Heartlands at Pool, where companies gathered to showcase projects.

Marine-i has also helped businesses grow, with many going on to win significant national industry awards.

Here we focus on some of the marine tech work taking place in Cornwall -

WorkFloat

Bridging a gap between small working boats with limited lifting and carrying ability and larger workboats with limited and costly relocation options, WorkFloat is a self-propelled, floating work platform that ‘folds’ up for easy and economical transportation.

You can tow it or ship to where you need to and self-launch from any suitable slipway or beach in under an hour, creating a large, stable work platform with lifting capabilities.

The mini multicat’ is designed to work on lakes, reservoirs, ponds, rivers, canals and flooded land, as well as tidal estuaries, hard to reach coastal sites, conflict and disaster zones and the developing world coastline.

Toby Budd of WorkFloat

It can be used for commercial diving, bridge repairs, aquaculture, light dredging, oil response, disaster and flood relief, SAR, ferry (cars and passengers), survey work, sampling, drilling, superyacht support, military, and film work.

Toby Budd, managing director said: “WorkFloat ‘folds’ up to tow behind a 4x4 on the road or to slide into a standard shipping container. Once afloat, the 8m x 5m ‘mini multicat’ can lift, pull and carry an impressive deadweight.

“A bit like a worker ant, WorkFloat may be small and light but she’s incredibly strong.”

In June the company won the overall ‘Spirit of Innovation’ Award at the European Commercial Marine Awards, at Europe’s largest commercial marine exhibition Seawork.

Inyanga Tech

The Penryn-based company is behind an innovative tidal energy project at the cutting edge of technology – HydroWing - based on a full-systems approach targeted at subsea tidal energy arrays.

The technology can be scaled up for ‘commercial scale’ higher energy density sites.

Richard Parkinson, the company’s managing director said: “The technology greatly reduces the dependency on offshore construction vessels during the construction phases and eliminates the need for these vessels during the O&M phase.

“This is achieved through focus on weight reduction and modularisation, using tried and tested subsea construction methods. It makes the technology more viable for remote areas where specialised vessels are not available.

"We aim to rapidly develop the technology towards a first demonstrator deployment in 2020.”

Mr Parkinson said the company is investigating several site options in collaboration with industrial partners and is keen to work collaboratively with others.

Arc Marine

ARC Marine, which has a base at Ruan-High-Lanes started in 2005 and is the first eco-engineering company in the UK specialising in artificial reefs and has created Reef Cubes.

The robust and simple interlocking modular system will help restore complex marine environments. Each cube has an integral chamber and six passages so marine creatures can access the structure.

Arc Marine's artificial reef cubes

Sediment collects naturally inside the cube and this chamber also provides an excellent habitat for many diverse species.

In the 2019 Maritime UK Awards, ARC Marine, set up by James Doddrell and Tom Birbeck, was named best start-up of the year.

Director Tom said: “Much of our world’s fisheries are now over exploited. There is a real danger that stocks of all the species that we rely on for food could collapse within 30 years."

The only other companies operating in this field in the UK were using old technology and standard concrete. Arc wanted to create an innovative flexible artificial reef that broke the mould.

“As we developed our Reef Cubes product, we quickly saw the global potential. There are only a handful of companies delivering comparable products anywhere in the world, so this really is an exciting area, rich in opportunity.”

Armada Engineering

The Falmouth-based global leader in marine hydraulics has create an innovative powerpack for marine applications, providing a ‘one stop solution’ for many different types of marine O&M tasks, including hydraulic flushing.

Armada has developed an innovative subsea vertical drill rig, designed to offer an efficient alternative to existing offshore and nearshore pile drilling methods used in the renewable energy, oil and gas industries such as anchoring offshore wind farms.

Generating drawing of the Armada powerpack

Managing director Joff Collins, said: “This new power pack is fitted with an intelligent HMI interface and Telematics. It will be diesel driven, enabling it to operate in virtually any location and it has built in gen-set with high pressure and flow capabilities.”

It has features like Geofence for anti-theft measures and real-time reporting of key data such as fuel consumption.

The company is currently designing and constructing a working prototype, which could open up new global markets.

Global OTEC Resources Ltd

The specialists in clean energy system for offgrid communities want to make it easier for island resorts to use ocean thermals.

It works out the materials needed for a small-scale operation that is viable. The cost is competitive compared to diesel generators and fuel, there are no harmful emissions and it is all offshore.

The OTEC barge design

Relocating to Cornwall, the company is working to introduce Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion to international clients, with plans to manufacture, sell and lease bespoke energy systems to luxury tropical hotels and resorts.

Managing director Dan Grech said: “We now have a preliminary design for our floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion plant. This enables us to provide an accurate, on-budget cost model to meet the needs of our identified market.

“Our work has already attracted a letter of support from the Maldivian government, as well as a memorandum of understanding from a major, publicly-listed hotel chain which owns 50 resorts across the tropics.”

Marine-i success stories

The project has led to the delivery of new products, services and high value jobs, creating new momentum and profile for businesses across a number of specialist fields -

Autonomous vessels now being designed and manufactured in Hayle (Unmanned Survey Solutions, Ultrabeam Hydrographic).

New marine tech software brought to market (Wave Venture, Navimeteo).

Fresh impetus for Cornwall’s world leading subsea geotechnics specialists (Armada Engineering, Subsea Minerals, Feritech, Ocean Hydraulics).

Environmental goods and services for global markets (Triskel Marine, Kiote, Buoyant Works, WorkFloat, Reflex Marine).

A new focus on hydrographic survey services; design, training and consultancy (Unmanned Survey Solutions, Ultrabeam Hydrographic).

Marine renewables taken to the next level (Inyanga-Tech, AMOG, Global OTEC Resources, Wave Venture).

New forms of low emission marine propulsion (Triskel Marine, RAD Propulsion, Bio Engine Technology, Whiskerstay).

Imaginative new approaches to vessel and marine equipment design (Solis Marine, Toniq, Reflex Marine)

Wave Venture

The creation of an innovative Techno Economic analysis product called “Wave Venture TE” could put Cornwall at the forefront of a new field of commercial analytics.

Wave Venture TE could also help stimulate growth in the wider wave energy industry, by giving investors and WEC developers the information they need to formulate successful commercial strategies.

The company's software is a hybrid desktopcloud integrated engineering and financial analysis package which will allow for Wave Energy Converter (WEC) developers to rapidly and accurately analyse their devices.

It brings the additional benefit of optimisation that includes all stages of a commercial wave farm development.

Managing director Ronan Costello said: “The customers who can benefit from our services include businesses investing in wave energy technology, organisations conducting research and development on wave energy conversion systems, and companies planning the deployment of wave energy farms.”

Triskel Marine

Triskel Marine, based in Hayle, is a hi-tech company specialising in marine data management and power control systems and has been involved in several pioneering collaborative projects in the hybrid marine energy and propulsion sector.

One of its projects is with a major commercial client to develop a unique new product in hybrid marine energy which has potential for major growth across international markets.

Triskel Marine's test vessel Armorel

Founder and managing director, Ken Wittamore said: “Hybrid energy and propulsion are the future.”

He said the ground-breaking project is a “real breakthrough” for the sector.

In November last year the company was named overall winner in the DAME global awards for marine design at the Metstrade show in Amsterdam – the world’s biggest marine equipment competition.

Ken added: “Since the launch of the Integrel system we have established worldwide distribution and have also won the prestigious IBEX award in the US for Most Innovative Product.”

Cornish companies making waves

Here are some of the other marine tech businesses in Cornwall which are doing great things

3DMSI

It has a service for ships and superyachts, documenting and modelling the exterior and interior and the engineering systems, using 3D scan data to model a complete ship.

Paddle Logger

It created a mobile app to track paddlers using GNSS data, giving the user live feedback and data analytics and has now added a new system Paddler in Trouble that signals when someone is in difficulty at sea.

Whisterstay

It has devised a new propulsion solution with wide applications for commercial and leisure marine vehicles, meeting demand in the marine sector for electric and hybrid propulsion systems that can deliver performance whilst also being environmentally friendly.

Kiote

Kiote has devised a new concept in sail technology, with a system that can propel an automatically controlled vessel effectively, while providing excellent stability, even in rough seas. It offers a zero-fuel, long-range, high-speed propulsion for a wide range of vessels.

Tide Mills

It is developing technologies and processes for small scale tidal range generation in the UK and Africa and is assessing options for direct supply contracts into a significant new commercial development that could open the door to their first tidal range installation in Cornwall.

Claxton Composites

The company which builds and refits commercial fishing vessels wants to develop a lower cost mould manufacturing technique with reusable components and lower disposal costs.

Oxi-Tech Solutions

It has developed an innovative system that produces ozone from water at low cost which means by incorporating its technology into ship systems, it aims to greatly mitigate pathogens – such as legionella.

Imetrum

It is developing a new, non-invasive sensing technology for wind turbine and marine diesel engine application, using Machine Learning algorithms to improve operating efficiency and maintenance life.

Frontier Technical

It is developing the MARLIN ‘Modular Floating Platform’ system for underwater construction of Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) platforms, with the aim of improving energy access for coastal communities.

Marine Power Systems

The company has developed the novel WaveSub, a wave energy converter with a power capacity that can match the larger offshore wind turbines, which could create a step-change in the commercial viability of wave power.

Bio Engine Technology

The company is developing an external combustion engine, powered by bioethanol, which could be carbon neutral and it can be transported, distributed and used in a similar way to conventional fossil fuels and used in marine craft and commercial ships.

Subsea Minerals

It is developing a platform and drilling unit which can be lowered onto an uneven seabed and adjust automatically, delivering faster landing on the seabed and much quicker mineral collection which could increase productivity twenty-fold..

Fal Fisheries CIC

The CIC wants to create the RD&I Micro Floating Oyster Hatchery primarily intended to repopulate the Fal Oyster Fishery stocks, which can be rolled out to other fisheries requiring regeneration.

Navimeteo

SUpported by MSC, a cruise ship operator, it has designed a system for improving weather forecasting at ports and anchorage sites and will be the first system that captures real-time marine weather data from vessels and share a network of real-time data with other vessels.

Wills Ridley

It has designed a new steering system to give improved manoeuvrability to twin rudder vessels, mainly superyachts and naval warships. The two rudders will be synchronised electronically and controlled by a touch screen system.

Marine Design and Construction

The pontoon designer and building company created Tugdock, a unique modular floating dock aimed at the tug and workboat market which will have worldwide applications and could lead to the establishment of a new production facility in Cornwall.

Ultrabeam Hydrographic

The company, which won the 2018 Cornwall Live Edge Awards Best Digital Innovation in Marine category provides survey solutions for clients around the world for bridge structures, harbours, subsea cables, and renewable energy installations, as well as shipwrecks.

Based in Hayle, the company specialises in high-precision sonar surveys of in-water structures and subsea assets and has created a new unmanned surface vessel believed to be the first of its kind.

A high resolution view of Mevagissey Harbour

The Ultra-2 is a 3-metre catamaran designed to gather fast, accurate and highly detailed survey data in challenging environments and can also carry a full suite of survey tools.

It has been specifically designed to gather accurate and highly detailed survey data in challenging inshore environments and will be able to deploy underwater robots at surface level, to perform detailed visual inspections below the surface.

Gabriel Walton, technical director said: “This dynamic positioning offers huge advantages in marine surveying. The Ultra-2 can hold its position accurately even in river currents and can also achieve much closer inspection of features than would be possible with any conventional craft.

"This technology is a real game-changer for the industry. It will allow us do things that were previously thought impossible or too risky in inshore surveying.

“We continue to push the boundaries of Cornish marine innovation with our highly versatile unmanned surface vessels and, delivering our services from the Middle East to the Scandinavian Arctic, we are genuinely showing what Cornwall has to offer.”