HarshLab: the largest floating test laboratory for the offshore industry

19 August 2022
Laboratorio flotante HarshLab

"The largest floating laboratory in Europe, installed at BIMEP, will enable companies to test their materials and developments in a real marine environment, helping to extend their useful life."

This infrastructure will improve the competitiveness of businesses by reliably predicting how different systems will behave in a marine environment

We have developed a new laboratory that is larger and boasts better features and capabilities to undertake new tests and R&D activities, whereby it is able to test equipment in operation on board and lower samples to the seabed. Like its predecessor, this new version, which has been launched in recent weeks, will enable new materials and developments for the offshore industry to be tested in a real environment under controlled conditions.

As new features, it will be connected to the electrical and communications network thanks to a dynamic cable that will connect it to BiMEP’s underwater network in 2023: enabling equipment in operation to be tested, data collection and subsequent analysis, as well as facilitating the handling of loads via the hydraulic crane on the main deck.

The new laboratory is eight point five metres in diameter by seven meters high and has a useful deck area of 120m2, providing a greater testing capacity. Thanks to the revamped characteristics of this new version of the laboratory, testing of anchoring elements or submarine cable connectors can also be performed on the seabed up to a depth of 65 metres.

A laboratory to drive the offshore industry

Other unique equipment includes: two openings in the seabed to test connectors, risers and umbilicals; an underwater modem to connect submerged elements to the surface; its own weather station; and an underwater ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to carry out inspections remotely.

This laboratory will evaluate what happens to materials, components and equipment when they are submerged, in the atmospheric area (above the water), in what is known as the splash area (where the waves break) and on the seabed. The information obtained will be used to compare the results from accelerated ageing tests in the laboratory, as the results cannot always be extrapolated to what actually happens at sea.

In this way, companies will be able to reliably predict how the different systems to be used in the marine environment for the research and development of new technological solutions for the offshore industry will perform, which will affect their safety and extend their life cycle.

More about the HarshLab Floating Lab

The launch of the first HarshLab in 2018 was a breakthrough for the offshore industry in Europe. Since then, it has served more than 20 companies by testing more than 500 specimens and samples related to new materials and solutions against corrosion, ageing or fouling in the marine environment.

This unique laboratory in Europe has been developed by TECNALIA with the support of the Energy Cluster of the Basque Country and the backing of the Basque Government. The laboratory was named HarshLab and is located at BiMEP, Biscay Marine Energy Platform (Armintza), 1.6 miles off the coast.