Pioneering technology set to enhance Scotland's oil and gas support sector

Pioneering technology set to enhance Scotland's oil and gas support sector

Pioneering technology set to enhance Scotland's oil and gas support sector

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen have been awarded £197,100 to develop an underwater device in a bid to keep Scotland at the forefront of oil and gas technological innovation.

The novel 'bolt-on' Variable Buoyancy System (VBS) will control the buoyancy of underwater vehicles in the harsh environment of the open ocean, therefore, increasing the range of activities that can be undertaken by such vehicles.

Furthermore, the VBS has a low power requirement, a factor that is a prerequisite for any component of underwater vehicles. Once completed, the prototype VBS will be tested at sea, initially in a sea loch, then later at full operational depth by exploiting the on-going deep ocean research programme at the University's Oceanlab facility.

The money was awarded through Scottish Enterprise's Proof of Concept Fund, which supports leading-edge technologies in Scotland's academic institutions, and aims to help export innovation from the lab into the global marketplace.

The £33m Fund launched in 1999 now supports 146 ground-breaking projects worth nearly £23.7 million and has created 340 new jobs. It concentrates on early-stage ideas, which have typically reached patent level and could lead to the creation of new businesses, or licensing innovative technologies.

Dr Phil Bagley, Senior Research Fellow at Oceanlab, is leading the VBS project, along with project team members Professor Mike Player, Alan Jamieson, David Sproule, and Dr Juliette Snow.

The VBS is likely to be of particular commercial benefit to oil and gas operators as a bolt-on component of Autononomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), and Landers.

Currently, AUVs are limited to surveying tasks due to their inability to make major changes in buoyancy. A bolt on VBS would expand these uses to include tasks involving the deployment and recovery of items on the sea floor, thereby increasing the potential market for AUVs.

Further details on the Proof of Concept fund, the projects that are currently supported, and the application process can be found at: http://www.scottishenterprise.com/proofofconceptfund

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