The OTRC operates a unique model testing basin at its headquarters in College Station that has enabled OTRC to become a world leader for offshore technology, education, research, and testing. The wave basin has played a vital role in support of OTRC’s endeavor to help U.S. oil producers reach new depths in the Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater frontier. Most of the deepwater structures planned or installed in the Gulf of Mexico have been tested in the OTRC model wave basin.
The model basin, is the most prominent symbol of the OTRC. Researchers use the tank to develop high-quality data sets against which sponsors can validate their models. A three-dimensional wave maker along with wind and current generators simulate the conditions facing deepwater structures. The facility has tested models of structures ranging from Tension Leg Platforms and Spars to Remotely Operated Vehicles for the petroleum industry and an Assured Crew Return Vehicle designed by NASA for the international space station.
The OTRC model basin is capable of large scale simulations of the effects of wind, waves, and currents on fixed, floating and moored floating structures. The wave basin is 150 ft long and 100 ft wide, with a depth of 19 ft. The pit located in the center of the basin has a depth of 55 ft. With 48 individual controlled paddles, the wavemaker can generate a variety of wave conditions, including unidirectional and multidirectional regular and irregular (random) waves. Sixteen dynamically controlled fans can generate prescribed gusty wind conditions from any direction. A modular current generation system consisting of banks of submerged jets can generate sheared current profiles from any direction. The data acquisition system can record up to 96 channels of information.