Fraunhofer IWES is testing the installation and tensile behaviour of suction bucket foundations at Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany.

A 1.4-metre diameter model of a foundation has been installed at the university's test centre for support structures.

The centre's test pit offers homogeneous conditions for the examination, as well as sandy seabed conditions similar to those typically found in the North Sea, Fraunhofer said. 

The institute said the model was sunk into just over a metre of the sand, with tensile load tests to follow after a few days 

Tests will simulate the effects of extreme waves on the structure, it added.

IWES project manager Tulio Quiroz said: “It is extremely important to monitor the negative pressure closely so as to avoid damaging the seabed and ensure the bucket remains level.

“For this reason, separate chambers are employed in the bucket during offshore installations, with the aim of regulating the pressure.” 

The test results will be made available to industry partners, Fraunhofer said.

Suction bucket foundations have an advantage over other structures because no heavy installation equipment needs to be deployed offshore and installation can be completed in one day, the researchers said.

Image: Fraunhofer IWES