Arctic marine technology

An aerial shot of an icebreaker ship going through ice in arctic conditions

An icy marine environment is a major challenge for seafaring and offshore structures. The functionality of the structures and the performance of ships in the icy marine environment require special expertise.

Key facts

Ice load design of offshore structure and ship propulsion devices for freezing sea areas 

Modelling of prevailing ice conditions (ice thickness, movement, ice forms)

Ice load portal for wind farm design

Our research focuses on modelling the loads caused by ice. Ice load design plays a key role in the development of offshore structures and ship propulsion devices so that they can be designed to be operationally reliable and cost-effective. For example, the large-scale expansion of renewable energy production, such as wind power, to northern sea areas requires new innovations for cost-effective offshore structures. On the other hand, the increasingly stringent greenhouse gas emission targets for seafaring pose a challenge to ship design, with the modelling of ship ice resistance playing a key role in the design of low-emission ships.

Development of offshore wind power in freezing sea areas

The performance of a wind farm’s support structures and foundations in a cold marine environment is a major challenge, especially in winter when a thick ice sheet or ridge drifts and makes contact with the offshore structure. Reliable knowledge of the loads caused by ice is required to optimise the structures in a rational and cost-effective manner. The design of ice loads on structures calls for statistical knowledge of the local ice conditions (e.g. thickness, movement and type of the ice). 

We have decades of experience in experimental and numerical ice research.

VTT’s expertise is based on decades of experimental and numerical ice research, with strong theoretical knowledge of ice mechanics and an understanding of ice conditions in the background. A key objective is to create a model of how climate change will cause changes in the icy marine environment and how this will in turn affect seafaring in winter and the design of wind farms.

Ice load portal

VTT has developed a web portal (ice load portal) for the structural design of wind farms with a user interface via which the user receives information on the design parameters of the selected site as regards environmental loads (e.g. ice, wave, wind, water depth, seabed quality), wind turbine structure design information and loads on the structure. Based on this information, the user can perform a numerical analysis in the web portal and view the functionality of the selected wind turbine structure at the selected location. Therefore, the web portal also supports maritime spatial planning.

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