The FASTBLADE facility will be based at Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard and will aim to speed up the development of materials and structures for a variety of industries, including those in marine, transport, nuclear and aerospace sectors.
It will be the first test facility of its kind in the world designed to carry out large-scale accelerated testing of tidal blades. Testing will use complex forces that simulate real environments, limiting the risks for product developers.
Babcock is the principal engineering designer and host of the FASTBLADE centre which will test new materials within full-scale structures such as tidal blades, plane components and bridge sections. The initial testing will be on tidal blades, but the international appeal of the facility and its wider aims will mean testing can take place across many industries.
The facility has received £1.4 million from the Engineering and Physcial Sciences Research Council and £1 million from the University of Edinburgh.
Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Head of the University’s School of Engineering, and leader of the research activity, said: “This collaboration is an opportunity to develop a world-class engineering facility to accelerate and support the development of new efficient technologies, and will be a great benefit to the tidal energy sector.”
Neil Young, a technology director within Babcock, who has been involved from the project’s concept, said: “When the university approached us, they were looking for specialist facilities and engineering design expertise to help get the project from research application to reality.
“At Babcock’s facility in Rosyth, we had both these key requirements, which were not available anywhere else in a single location.
“For us, this really is a great industrial partnership. Our engineers, working alongside the University’s renowned academics, have shown what the art of the possible is, in engineering and in working together. Whilst we are still at the early stages of development, we are creating something that will have real benefits for all the companies using the facility in years to come.”