The Deltares GeoCentrifuge, a unique geotechnical test facility
Raising gravitational forces in the centrifuge allows us to scale down geotechnical processes and simulate them on scale. In addition, time is, as it were, accelerated. Physical processes in the subsoil that would normally take several years can be reduced to a few hours. That makes it possible to test structures in the subsoil that have never been built before, such as tunnels or dikes.
The GeoCentrifuge can be used to test models measuring up to 1.2 m x 1.2 m x 1.8 m. It includes a development environment for supplying the testdata that can be converted, used and validated using computational geotechnical numerical models.
We use the GeoCentrifuge for scientific research but also to validate applied models and structures.
Examples of applications in the GeoCentrifuge:
1. Wind turbines are getting bigger in the near future. In the North Sea, they will be about 300 m tall already within a few years. Such large turbines have never been built and that has implications for design and construction. Deltares uses the centrifuge to test and validate the foundations of the turbines;
2. Dikes have to be safe. The GeoCentrifuge can be used to subject dikes to conditions that can occur, but hardly ever seen in real life, such as extreme high water levels or drought. Given the changing climate, we need to know more about the effects;
3. Our infrastructure in the water, energy, urban transport and goods transport sectors is facing major challenges: from the effects of extreme weather to ageing and more intensive use. The GeoCentrifuge can simulate the effects on both existing and new infrastructure.
The set-up and available instrumentation makes a wide range of tests possible.
- Type of centrifuge: beam centrifuge (Actidyn C72-3);
- Operational since 2021;
- Platform radius: 5 m;
- Maximum model size: 1.2 m x 1.2 m x 1.8 m (lxwxh);
- Capacity: 260 g-tonne;
- Maximum g-level: 150g;
- Maximum speed: 340 km/h;
- Maximum rotational speed: 3/sec;
- Drive system: 2 x 135 kW electromotors;
- High-definition and high-speed video recording;
- High-speed data acquisition;
- Testing in a climate controlled space;
- A wide-ranging sensor set for monitoring;
- A 4D robot for in-flight loading steps;
- A workshop for the design, manufacture and testing of test equipment (including metalwork and 3D printing);
- Soil model preparation devices for sand layering and clay mixing and consolidation;
- Deltares brings together knowledge from many disciplines. That makes versatile testing possible.