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Ocean Engineering and Structural Testing Laboratory

Physical Description of Space and Equipment

The Ocean Engineering and Structural Testing Laboratory consists of over 10,500 square feet of climate-controlled laboratory space. Other test facilities are located outdoors such as blast pits and structural loading test fixtures. The laboratory is used to support the design and development of various equipment, ranging from research submersibles to automotive components such as air bags and pressurized natural gas cylinders. The main laboratory houses more than 10 pressure chambers used as deep ocean simulators ranging in size from a 90-inch inside diameter by 20-feet deep chamber to a 10-inch inside diameter, 20,000 psig vessel. These vessels are used for testing prototype equipment, pressure housings, subsea instrumentation, cables, connectors, oilfield production and safety equipment, and have been used to simulate outer-space environments.

Description of How Laboratory is Used

Although the lab does not certify products tested, it does provide engineering design verification and evaluation of many of the products tested. Experimental stress analysis and acceptance tests are performed on many products and usually involve participation by organizations such as the American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyds, Det Norske Veritas, or government inspectors. Re-certification by the American Bureau of Shipping requires that submersibles and components be tested on a regular basis. This service is provided to companies operating submersibles.

Hydrostatic pressure tests, both internal and external, are performed in the lab. Operational tests requiring electrical and hydraulic penetrations through the test chambers are also performed in various environments. Collapse tests on American Petroleum Institute (API) steel pipe casing, fiberglass pipe, titanium, and stainless steel pipe are routinely performed for offshore steel pipe manufacturers. The laboratory also designs and fabricates special test fixtures to accommodate client test requirements such as a compressive load frame designed for one million pounds to test a ship structure made of a composite material.

The laboratory employs various types of equipment such as hydraulic power units that are air and motor driven and have pressure capabilities up to 75,000 psig. Pressure and temperature transducers, strain gage data acquisition systems, helium leak detectors, deflection transducers, recorders, servo controllers, hydraulic cylinders, chillers, vacuum equipment, universal test machines with up to a 400,000 lb. capability, ovens, and specialized hardware are used for the various tests performed by the laboratory. Water, seawater, oil, glycol, nitrogen, helium, and liquid nitrogen are some of the test mediums used in the lab. Tests are performed in accordance with client requirements, SwRI test procedures, API specifications, MIL standards, ASTM, ASME, and other procedures required by the clients.

Physical Location

SwRI grounds in northwest San Antonio, Texas

Points of Contact

Joe Crouch. P.E.; Chris Storey; or Al Steiner

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