A huge length of chain, weighing in at over 11 tonnes and measuring 225 feet in length, has been designed and manufactured in the UK by Renold. It is used to drive a 3,000 tonne capacity carousel for the laying of undersea pipe and umbilical cable for the offshore oil industry. The carousel, dubbed Colossus by its construction team, is 24 metres in diameter and weighs, when empty, some 450 tonnes. When fully wound it is capable of storing up to 120 kilometres of cable for such things as connecting land to offshore rigs and wellheads.
Designed and built by The Engineering Business for Subsea 7 the giant carousel is positioned on its side on an offshore support vessel for the winding and subsequent laying of cable. Seen in the picture opposite, the yellow cable can be clearly seen. The design team at The Engineering Business considered a variety of drive options for turning the carousel but eventually opted for a chain drive system with four AC motors positioned around the carousel like points of the compass.
The chain has an expected life span of more than 20 years despite the harsh environments in which it will be operating. It is secured around the circumference of the carousel where it engages with sprockets attached to the electric motors. As the sprockets turn, the teeth, designed with a special rack tooth form, drive the chain which turns the carousel. A special feature of the chain is its extended pins, to allow for up to 30mm of lateral movement. The whole reel structure sits atop a series of uniquely designed sprung roller units that are depressed when the reel is fully loaded. As the carousel is unwound it is slowly pushed up by the rollers and the chain’s extended pins allow for this lateral movement.
For more information about Renold's range of conveyor chain, click here: