- Published: 11 May 2023 11 May 2023
A collaboration between Cambridge Vacuum Engineering (CVE), SSE Renewables, Sif Group, and TWI, has resulted in the first-ever electron beam welded section to be incorporated in an offshore wind turbine monopile foundation (transition piece).
Monopiles are currently fabricated using conventional techniques such as submerged arc welding (SAW), but the consortium has demonstrated that electron beam (EB) welding is quicker, cheaper, cleaner, more energy efficient and produces high quality welds with excellent fatigue properties.
The type of electron beam welding technology used – called Ebflow – is a new development within the electron beam welding industry. Instead of welding inside a size-limiting vacuum chamber, Ebflow uses a local vacuum system that creates and maintains a vacuum around only the seam that is being welded. According to the partners, the technology – developed by CVE – has been shown to weld monopiles at least 25 times faster than current methods, whilst using 90% less energy, costing 88% less, and producing 97% less CO2 emissions than SAW methods.
The project required installation of an Ebflow system at Sif’s Maasvlakte 2 facility in Rotterdam to perform several longitudinal welds on 2750 mm length seams on 8m diameter rolled cans with a wall thickness of between 67-85mm. Qualification of the welding machine, weld procedures and operators were witnessed by third party inspectors and the regulatory body, DNV, which subsequently issued a technology qualification for EB welding and non-destructive testing (NDT) of the longitudinal seams produced with the process.
The resulting can was incorporated into a monopile transition piece in January 2023 and is scheduled to be installed offshore as part of a foundation in Dogger Bank Wind Farm in late 2023.