We have another bright new MSc. engineer in dredging technology1: Gijs ter Meulen. Tuesday, he presented and defended his thesis on the forces and production of a trailing suction head. For this thesis project he was working at our research and development department at Damen Dredging Equipment2.
Trailing suction hopper dredges have become the tool of the trade for modern dredging contractors. They are versatile, flexible and able to transport sand over great distances. They load their cargo in their holds, by sucking up the sediment from the sea bottom with a big trailing suction head. This head looks like an out of size vacuum cleaner head.
Usually, it is very difficult to comprehend what is going on in and around the drag head. There is some laboratory research done, but not all results are freely available. Other knowledge is solely based on the experience of well-seasoned dredge masters. I do have respect for the experience of dredge masters, but their stories are hardly usable for an academic model description. So, Gijs took on the challenge to piece together a model, that satisfies our curiosity and fits with the experiences.
For this project, he identified several steps, which we briefly touch upon here:
- The processes and forces around the drag head3 were all investigated on their cause and effect.
- A model was set up, where each process and their interaction with the others were identified.
- One main process in the drag head is the jetting production. A powerful jet of water is injected into the soil and this erodes part of the sediment under the drag head4.
- Another main process is the cutting production5. What is not eroded away by the jets, is removed by the teeth at the back of the visor.
- As the contribution of the processes to the forces and the production is known, the total performance can be calculated.
Along the way, this gave us very useful insight in the capabilities of the drag head and the trailing system, all the way to the requirements for the propulsion. Now, we will be able to continue to improve our drag heads even further. Any other students who would like to participate in that project are welcome to contact us5.
Gijs takes a new step in his career path. He is going to work for a well esteemed customer of us, so we will see him around in the dredging industry. Thanks Gijs, bon voyage!
- MSc Offshore & Dredging Engineering, TU Delft
- Innovation, Damen Dredging Equipment
- Designing Dredging Equipment [OE4671], Vlasblom
- Sand erosion with a traversing circular jet, Robert Weegenaar
- The Cutting of Sand, Dredging Engineering
- Internships, Damen Dredging Equipment