Newcastle University has announced a £1.5m investment to further expand its School of Marine Science and Technology.
Building on the existing Blyth Marine Station which opened last year, the new development will house the University’s Emerson Cavitation Tunnel, an experimental facility used to test propellers and turbine blades.
Dating back to the 1950’s, the cavitation tunnel is the only one of its kind in the UK and is currently based in the old boiler house on the main university campus, Newcastle University wrote.
The move to Blyth will not only allow an expansion of the facility but also the installation of other experimental facilities supporting research on propeller design and biofouling.
Due to be completed by the end of next year, the aim is to create a Centre of Excellence for Marine Hydrodynamics, Coatings and Materials, working with key academic and industry partners including International Paint.
Professor Andrew Willmott, Head of the School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University, said:
“Newcastle has world-leading expertise in both propeller design and in the development and testing of coatings that reduce biofouling and this new Centre of Excellence will greatly enhance our capabilities in this increasingly important field.
“This new build at Port of Blyth will double the size of the existing facility, allowing us to strengthen our research capacity and also increase our opportunities for new collaborations and partnerships with marine sector industries, which are so important to the North East economy.”
Led by the School of Marine Science and Technology, research in this field pulls together the engineering expertise from across the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and a number of new developments are underway that will see a growth in marine engineering research.
The first of these is the £7m Neptune National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering, announced by former Business Secretary Vince Cable as a key part of the Government’s Oil and Gas Strategy.
A related project is the Neptune Hyperbaric Test Centre, a £10m collaborative project with BEL Valves.
Blyth Marine Station is home to the University’s Research Vessel – the R/V Princess Royal – as well as teaching rooms, workshops, and an aquarium.
To showcase some of these new developments, the University will be part of a major two-day Subsea North East conference being held at St James’ Park.
Professor Nick Wright, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Newcastle University said:
“Here in the North East there is both the commitment and the expertise to drive forward innovation in this rapidly-developing sector.
“Projects such as Neptune help put our academic community and industry at the centre of subsea and offshore engineering research, driving up skills and developing the innovations needed to fuel growth in the marine industry.
“We already have close links with a number of companies and next month’s event gives us the opportunity to expand this network and strengthen existing collaborations.”