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photograph Newcastle to Blyth via Poland

Newcastle University’s Emerson Cavitation Tunnel has begun the long journey to its new home at the port of Blyth - stopping in Gdansk, Poland, on its way.

The unique research facility – which was built in the 1950s – is being taken to Poland where it will be fully refurbished before it is brought back to the North East and installed in the new purpose-built research centre, adjacent to the Blyth Marine Station.

Led by Polish-based Ship Design and Research Centre Centrum Techniki Okrętowej (CTO), the removal operation from the Old Boiler House on the University’s main campus took under two weeks.

Stephen Pyle, Project Manager for the Estates Support Service, explained:

“This was a major operation and CTO have been absolutely fantastic.

“Some parts of the tunnel were heavier than anticipated – the whole lot weighs around 55 tonnes - and some parts were below floor level which makes it more difficult to access. The contractors had to remove 1000 bolts, before creating holes in the roof to allow for it be removed.”

Once refurbished, the tunnel is due to be reinstalled at the port of Blyth in September and will be fully operational early 2017.  It is used to test propellers and turbine blades, supporting research on propeller design and surfaces in the process.

Dating back to the late 1940s, the cavitation tunnel is the only one of its kind in the UK, and was brought to Newcastle from Pelzerhaken in northern Germany after World War II. 

The tunnel’s move to Blyth is part of a £1.5m investment for the School of Marine Science and Technology, helping to create a Centre of Excellence for Marine Hydrodynamics, Coatings and Materials. It will join the University’s Research Vessel – the Princess Royal – and teaching rooms, workshops and an aquarium. Purpose-built laboratory space planned for the site will be double the size of the existing provision, increasing research capacity and allowing for closer collaboration with industry leaders.

Newcastle University is already a hub of new and emerging marine technologies, and together with industry leaders such as Bel Valves, SMD, Shepherd Offshore and International Paints, is continuing to rejuvenate the sector.

Driven forward by recent investments, the School is expanding. Dr Alessio Tei, Lecturer in Marine Transport, has recently joined the School, and two further new colleagues will join the School in August: Dr Hu, Senior Lecturer in Marine Hydrodynamics, and Dr Alan Jamieson, Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology/Ecology.  

The School will also start the process of appointing a Reader/Professor in Experimental Marine Hydrodynamics this summer.  The post holder will provide leadership in this field, with emphasis on leading research and consultancy that will utilise the Emerson Cavitation Tunnel (ECT) in its new location. The post holder will lead a group of 5 academic staff with research interests in experimental marine hydrodynamics.

The site will also be used as exhibition space for the University and School during the Tall Ships Regatta due to be held at Blyth Quayside between 26-29 August.

Professor Andrew Willmott, Head of the School of Marine Science and Technology, adds:

“Work on the cavitation tunnel was well overdue and this major investment and relocation means this unique facility will be a valuable research asset for many years to come.”


published on: 23rd May 2016


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