Babcock was onsite at PNDC to set up a test rig designed for the thermal management of ship systems and test the material that allows for the absorption of thermal energy as part of the cooling process in ship systems. The images below showcase Babcock and PNDC setting up the test rig at the PNDC facility in Cumbernauld.
This project is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) providing world-class expertise and delivering cutting-edge science and technology.

Babcock and PNDC moving bunds

Babcock and PNDC team getting ready to move the bunds into the testing area. These bunds catch any spill water from the rig if there’s a leak during testing.

Babcock and PNDC removing bund lids

Removing the lids to inspect the size of the bund and to work out how the Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) are going to sit on top of them and to make sure they are aligned and ensure there’s no unnecessary overlap of the lid.

Floor bund put in place as layer of protection for any leaks

A floor bund was put in place as layer of protection for any leaks from the larger containers and spill offs not caught by the other bunds.

Taking the lid off the main container where the thermal storage will be installed

Taking the lid off the main container where the thermal storage will be installed, which is the central point of the test rig, where hot and cold water is being pumped out of to test the Phase Change Material (PCM) modules, as part of the thermal management process. Sections are being removed from the tank pictured, which is broken up into four quadrants, in readiness for the PCM modules and associated instrumentation.

Tank sitting on top its own yellow bund

In the fore of the picture the tank is sitting on top its own yellow bund which sits on the wider floor bund. The scaffold on the right allows for safe access to the tank.

Two IBCs sitting of their associated bunds

A different perspective of the test rig in progress, showing two IBCs sitting on their associated bunds.

PNDC R&D Engineer, Allan Downie, is working on the instrumentation

PNDC R&D Engineer, Allan Downie, is working on the instrumentation, taping the thermal couple wiring that goes into the data acquisition system, and running the cables which will ultimately be going into the large tank. The thermal couples measure the temperature of the water and phase changing material, capture that time-stamped information for later analysis to work out the system efficacy.

Labelling the valve control system

Tamsin from Babcock is referring to the commissioning test set up plan and carefully labelling the valve control system that was put together at Babcock to be deployed onsite at PNDC. The system includes different valves that can be opened and closed depending on the test criteria to allow for different types of tests to be carried out e.g. using a particular mix of hot and cold water. There are 17 different valves to allow multiple different scenarios to be implemented.

Pre-fabricated boards prepared by Babcock containing heaters and pumps

Pre-fabricated boards prepared by Babcock containing heaters and pumps.

labelled instrumented board with engineers working in the background

The labelled instrumented board will assist Allan when running various tests by changing the valves and analysing the captured data.

electrical supply panel

The electrical supply panel, in the centre of the image, was specified and built for the project and is powering all of the heaters and pumps that Babcock are using to run the test.

PNDC Electrical Engineer, Alastair Wilson, terminating cables

PNDC Electrical Engineer, Alastair Wilson, is terminating the cables running from the electrical supply panel into the heaters, pumps and other instrumentation that’s going in the board. To provide power to the equipment, Alastair is taking cables that run from the central supply panel to the pumps and heaters. The electrical supply panel plugs into a 63A socket as a single point of connection.

babcock pndc loading test tank with phase change material

The Babock and PNDC team load the testing tank with the instrumented Phase Change Material (PCM) modules as part of the commissioning process.

PNDC's Scott Wanless and Alastair Wilson earth bonding

To ensure safe operation, PNDC Technical Support Manager, Scott Wanless, and Electrical Engineer, Alastair Wilson, add earth bonding to exposed metal work on the pipes, valves and heaters supplying the test rig with hot and cold water.

Terminating hot cold supplies to central tank

The Babcock and PNDC team terminate the hot and cold supply pipes to the central tank within the test rig.

Interior view of central test tank

Interior view of the central test tank. The ‘bricks’ are the Phase Change Material (PCM) modules and are being stacked 10 layers deep, 4 wide and 4 long. The tank is split into 4 ‘quadrants’ so that the water flows around the modules in 4 passes before exiting the tank to be heated/chilled (depending on the test) and recirculated. The whole rig is heavily instrumented with measurements of water temperature; PCM temperature, tank surface temperature and flow rate. In total there are 34 different measurements being taken during each test.

Terminating the electrical supplies to the test rig

In the background, Alastair is terminating the electrical supplies to the test rig. In the fore can be seen the ‘tails’ from several thermocouples and heat mats that have already been installed in the tank.

PNDC and Babcock note the location of the sensors

PNDC and Babcock note the location of the sensors as part of the commissioning process while completing the commissioning checklist.

Loading another PCM module to the test tank

Allan hands another PCM module to the Babcock team to continue loading the test tank.

Alastair Wilson continues earth bonding

Alastair continues to add earth bonding to any exposed metal work on the supply system.

Advising on test rig plumbing connections

Lance, a plumber from the University of Strathclyde Estates Services, is advising the team on the test rig plumbing connections.

Tamsin from Babcock placing the last PCM modules into thermal energy storage tank

Tamsin (Babcock) placing the last of the PCM modules into the thermal energy storage tank.

Lewis (Babcock) sorting and attaching the instrumentation wires

Lewis (Babcock) sorting and attaching the instrumentation wires prior to the lid being placed on the tank.

Test rig energy storage tank and close up of closed lid

All the temperature probes have just been terminated into the Data Acquisition Cards, housed within the container shown sitting on the top of the tank on the left, with the lid of the tank added as shown on the right for testing to commence.

Next steps

Since this commissioning period, the test readiness review has been completed (8th June 2022), and all stakeholders have agreed to proceed to the testing stage.

Next, PNDC will undertake some preliminary tests to evaluate the system’s performance in transitioning to different temperature setpoints (time required to reach a uniform tank temperature).

After this has been finalised, scenario testing will be undertaken, looking at various heating and cooling profiles.

Data captured from each test run (temperature, heat transfer, and flow) will be uploaded to Babcock at the end of each day.

This data will be analysed by Babcock and PNDC to evaluate the performance of the phase change material solution and to develop and validate a simulation of the system under test.

Get in touch

PNDC project leads: Kyle Jennett and Allan Downie.

The collaboration with Babcock showcases PNDC’s capabilities in multi-vector systems, thermal power system testing, instrumentation, data analysis, maritime power systems and validation testing. Please get in touch to find out more and engage with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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