Our customers come to us for commercially-viable solutions to complex problems. Consequently, very little of what we do can be considered ‘off-the-shelf’. We are continually looking for innovative advances that have operational applications and, where we deem these viable, we invest in research activities to run alongside our normal product development.
At any one time we can be researching improvements across a range of technologies, components and sub-systems building in the performance specifications we need, such as pressure tolerance. Examples of these include:
- Light-weight, high-efficiency solid-state energy conversion technology. This replaces traditional bulky transformers in subsea applications. One main focus of this project has been to change from AC to DC medium voltage umbilical transmission for Remotely Operated Vehicles. The transformer is replaced by a DC/DC converter operating at high frequency which in turn means a much smaller isolation transformer.
- Advances in power electronics. These include wide-band gap semiconductor devices in order to operate at much higher switching frequencies. Our work in this area has focused on silicon carbide, but gallium nitride is also applicable. The promised outcome of this work is much higher device operating voltages in the future.
- Core building block high-frequency power switching stages. These can be connected in a variety of ways to form medium voltage to low voltage step-down DC converters and variable-speed motor drive inverters. The core technology is a full-bridge inverter topology which can either be connected to a transformer, or linked to form a medium voltage motor drive inverter. In both cases we can create solutions that will operate off high input voltages up to 5000V.
- Advanced control systems. These optimise efficiency and provide balance across the whole system to ensure safe operation and reliability of our converter and motor drive solutions.
- Hyperbaric welding performance. For a number of years we have worked continuously to develop, improve, study and qualify the hyperbaric MIG welding process for offshore use. Qualified welding procedures have been used for the world’s first remote-controlled production weld at 265msw (the Remote Hot Tap Retrofit Tee, as part of the Åsgard Subsea Compression Project in 2012) and the world’s deepest remote-controlled weld at 1,000msw.