MTR 100: Ohmsett

Posted by Irina Tabakina

The Case: The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) manages the facility as part of its mandated requirements by the OPA 1990.  Ohmsett is an integral part of the BSEE oil spill research program and directly supports the BSEE goal of ensuring the best and safest oil spill detection, containment and removal technologies are available to protect the U.S. coastal and oceanic environments.

Ohmsett’s mission is to improve oil spill response through research and development, testing, training, and to provide performance testing of response equipment and marine renewable energy systems.
Located in Leonardo, NJ, Ohmsett provides independent and objective performance testing of full-scale oil spill response equipment and marine renewable energy systems (wave energy conversion devices). It is the largest outdoor saltwater wave/tow tank facility in North America and the only facility where full-scale oil spill response equipment testing, research, and training can be conducted in a marine environment with oil under controlled environmental conditions (waves and types of oil).
The Ohmsett facility consists of an above-ground concrete test tank measuring 667 feet long by 65 feet wide by 8 feet deep filled with 2.6 million gallons of crystal clear salt water, conference rooms, maintenance/machine shop, oil/water chemistry laboratory, and offices.
The U.S Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) operates Ohmsett as part of its mandated requirements to ensure that the best and safest technologies are used in offshore oil and gas operations. The facility is maintained by MAR, Incorporated through a contract with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
    
The Tech
Ohmsett represents an intermediate step between small scale bench testing and open water testing of equipment ensuring the best and safest oil spill detection, containment and removal technologies are available to protect the U.S. coastal and oceanic environments. Many of today’s commercially available oil spill cleanup products and services have been tested here, as well as the collection of a considerable body of performance data and information on mechanical response equipment. This information is used by response planners in reviewing and approving facility response and contingency plans.
The facility has the capability to test and evaluate oil spill response technologies such as: mechanical oil recovery systems, chemical treating agents and dispersants (to include subsea dispersant effectiveness), oil in ice and cold weather climate, remote sensing and detection instruments, sorbent materials, temporary storage devices, viscous oil pumping units, and oil water separators.
In addition, Ohmsett provides a venue for first responders with the most realistic hands-on training available, enabling rapid and efficient response to an actual spill event.
The Ohmsett test tank is large enough to accommodate many alternative energy devices, in particular wave energy conversion mechanical devices, in a controlled environment at meso-scale. The advantage is that arduous scaling considerations are minimized, and validation testing is more realistic.
 

(As published in the July/Aug 2014 edition of Marine Technology Reporter - http://www.marinetechnologynews.com/Magazine)

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