Water-based pile driver aces trial

Blue-Piling-Technology-credit-FistucaA consortium has wrapped up trials in the Netherlands of a new offshore pile driving technology that uses water and is claimed to be quieter and more cost-effective than conventional techniques.

Development trio Fistuca, Van Oord and TNO put the  patented Blue Piling Technology through its paces at Van Oord’s shipyard in Zuilichem, driving one open-ended pile with a 2.2-metre diameter and one closed-ended pile with a 0.7-metre diameter into the riverbed from the quayside.

The results of the test, which was described as a “success”, will be presented at the EWEA Offshore conference in Frankfurt in November.

The system works by injecting a gas mixture into a combustion chamber in a pipe filled with water. Once the gas is ignited the rapid combustion boosts pressure, pushing the water up and driving the pile down. When the water falls again it creates a second force pulse, driving the pile even deeper. The cycle is repeated until the pile reaches its target depth.

With the mass of the water column being larger than a conventional steel ram, the consortium claims the force pulse of Blue Piling Technology is longer and offers more soil penetration per blow as well as lower noise emissions.

The tests were supported by a grant from the Dutch government’s Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation Offshore Wind. Fistuca, a spin-off of the Eindhoven University of Technology, devised the system and aims to bring it to market in 2015.

Image: the Blue Piling Technology is tested on the quayside in Zuilichem (Fistuca)