Photo: MacArtney

MacArtney, INFN to Test Underwater Connectors

Posted by Michelle Howard

MacArtney to supply and test several underwater connectors for INFN - the National Institute for Nuclear Physics.

INFN for the IDMAR Research Infrastructure in Sicily supports, among others, the KM3NeT (Cubic Kilometre Neutrino Telescope) infrastructure in the Mediterranean Sea. MacArtney Underwater Technology will be working with INFN for the duration of a system solution project to provide junction box mechanical frames and pressure vessels designed to host OPAs (Optical and Power Assemblies) for the connection of neutrino detection units from the seabed.

Connected from the shore station by approximately 100 kilometers of high-speed electro-optical cable, the MacArtney supplied junction boxes can provide a complete connectivity unit for power and data transmission. Submerged on the seabed at a depth of 3,500 meters, the working depth of the pressure vessel and OPA requires fully connected pressure testing at 350 bar.

Real-life pressure testing has been available in a dedicated facility at MacArtney headquarters in Denmark since the 90s. The hydrostatic pressure testing can currently simulate operating conditions at up to 8,000 meters of ocean depth. The realistic subsea operating conditions generate accurate results, and the entire process can be computer-controlled, enabling electrical and optical measurements to be carried out in real-time.

The ongoing scope of supply for INFN includes:

  • Junction box mechanical frames 1.1
  • Junction box mechanical frames 2.0
  • Pressure vessels (hosting OPA)
  • Pressure vessel spare, for qualification
  • Teledyne ODI Connectors

MacArtney will be expanding their hydrostatic pressure testing capability to 14,000 meters of ocean depth. Testing to additional safety margins of up to 1.5% has become increasingly important as customers strive to understand the practical limitations of their technology.