In both Australia and Canada, ASI Marine has established the record for the longest tunnel swim with a Falcon ROV.
By creatively modifying a Saab Seaeye Falcon ROV, they were able to send the vehicle through a pipeline stretching over four kilometres under Gladstone Harbour, Queensland to Curtis Island.
They also sent the same modified Falcon through five kilometres of feeder pipes in Lake Ontario.
Under Lake Ontario in Canada, the Falcon worked in the worst freezing conditions on record to run five kilometres down each of three separate 1.6 metre diameter pipes in a unique project to create the world’s largest cooling system.
This deep lake cooling system feeds the city of Toronto in summer with cold water to cool the city’s offices – as a sustainable alternative to air-conditioning - then sends the water onwards to top-up Toronto’s municipal water supply.
Bob Clarke, ASI Marine’s senior operations manager, says they achieved this by modifying the power supply to the system so that the Falcon could operate over five kilometres of tether.
This was particularly important for the Australian project, as their client wanted just a single point of access to inspect the 4.3 kilometre pipeline.
The inspection on the Santos Gladstone LNG Project was conducted with the Falcon to confirm the condition of the pipeline that was pushed through the utility tunnel.
The utility tunnel had been bored to minimize environmental impact at the site and to provide a protected conduit through which to pass the pipeline and other utilities.
This was the last segment of the pipeline that delivers liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the Santos LNG plant on Curtis Island. The ROV inspection was conducted to ensure the pipe’s integrity during and after the push.
The Falcon was fitted out with video plus profiling sonar with a BlueView imaging sonar and Mesotech scanning sonar as additional navigation aids.
Bob Clarke says they chose the Falcon for its “moderate size, good thrust-to-weight ratio and telemetry capacity”. It is also capable of unlimited inspection durations, he adds.
The Falcon’s intelligent architecture means each device on the vehicle can have its own microprocessor for individual control and systems can be easily changed or added.
Although small enough to be easily manhandled, its intelligent control, combined with five-strong thruster power and precise manoeuvrability, allows it to operate sensors, tooling and complex systems typically found on much larger ROVs.
As a module-focussed concept, the Falcon generates automatic diagnostics on power-up to ensure each device is fully interfaced and working correctly.
In modifying the Falcon to undertake the longest runs ever attempted by a vehicle of this class, ASI Marine has continued its tradition of developing innovative solutions for demanding projects. Established in 1987 this specialist underwater structure inspection and repair company has since pioneered many innovations, including becoming the first company to develop an ROV for internal pipeline inspection.