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Stoplog solution for Sheffield University

Sheffield University has a new laboratory aptly named the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility. Its purpose is to test various pipe materials in simulated conditions to observe how they perform.

The enormous concrete tank

Funded by the EU and the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This enormous facility enables pipe testing to be carried out in a 45m long, 6m wide and 5m deep concrete tank. There was a need to carry out multiple experiments simultaneously. Therefore, a need to divide the tank into differing areas required multiple stoplogs, rebates, and movable infrastructure. The stoplogs enable the tank to split up. Allowing differing aggregates, substrates, and water to be used on either side of the divide.
To add to the challenge there was a requirement for the tank to be split in two. Therefore, creating two working areas of 45m long x 3m wide x 5m deep. To enable this, vertical beams and supports were designed to hold a row of the 6.2m wide and 5m high set of stoplogs in place. The planned experiments also utilise a hydraulic rig to apply further force on the aggregates and buried pipework in the tank increasing the loads we would be working with. All of this had to be achieved with only a 15l/sec allowable leakage rate per set of stoplogs. A very tight tolerance on removable structures of this size.

ACE and our partners

ACE together with our partners Jansen Venneboer SPIE (JV-SPIE) are experts in delivering bespoke water flow control equipment. So, have a wealth of experience for Sheffield University and the principal contractors JF Finnegan (JFF) to rely on. Due to the variables present and options available, ACE advised JFF and Sheffield University to appoint ACE as a designer to fix the design. Because it would have been extremely difficult to fix a price with so many unknowns present.
During the design phase options were explored for sealing, supporting the stoplogs, rebates, lifting and overall stoplog design. To ensure for robust decision making on each of the parameter’s options were quantified and presented in various matrices. 3D models were used to communicate the design. Showing the details which enabled much higher sealing capabilities to traditional concepts. This also showed how the whole solution could be assembled.

Time to manufacture

Following the design phase and detailed engineering, manufacturing started the JV-SPIE’s Sliedrecht facility near Rotterdam. The stoplog solution was manufactured in mild steel with three layers of Sigma coating ensuring robust material conservation. The guides which were cast into the concrete tank were made in stainless steel. Stainless steel provides the perfect surface for the seals to slide on and seal against.
The guides were manufactured and shipped first, ahead of the rest of the fabrication to enable JFF to cast them into the tank walls. The sealing faces were machined to extremely tight tolerances and finished with EPDM sealing systems. Ensuring the tight leakage rates could be met. Following careful examination by internal quality control, the system was loaded and shipped to Sheffield for assembly.

The ACE team delivered

The ACE installation team lived up to their name, setting out the rebates and installing the stoplogs. Leakage rates were well within tolerance on the first test of each location! Sheffield University, impressed after working with the ACE installation team, have asked for ACE presence for future stoplog movements to ensure timely and safe construction for each new experiment to start.
ACE would very much like to thank Sheffield University and JF Finnegan for the opportunity to deliver such a unique, interesting and exciting project and our partners Jansen Venneboer SPIE for the quality design, engineering, and manufacturing.

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