Discover how Aubin, a leading developer and supplier of chemical solutions to the oil and gas industry, connected with Scottish Power Renewables through KTN's Innovation Exchange.

Overview and Challenge

Corrosion in bolted monopile-transition piece (MP-TP) connections within fixed offshore wind foundation structures is a key challenge within the renewables industry. Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) engaged the expertise of the ORE Catapult and KTN to solve the problem.

Solution

Every year millions of pounds are spent on grout, and associated operational costs within the renewables industry and companies worldwide are unhappy with product failure resulting in corrosion to the monopiles-transition piece connection. A grouting alternative was required that could be delivered within the standard grouting timeframes.

With a cement laboratory based in Aberdeenshire, which is used extensively for designing cement for a range of offshore applications, Aubin, an established developer and manufacturer of chemical and material products within the oil and gas sector, had the expertise in using novel chemical and material-based technologies to prevent corrosion.  Identified as the main contributor to the project and working with ORE Catapult and SPR, Aubin identified AXI-Gard – a patented, non-conductive, vegetable-based gel material as the perfect solution to the challenge.

Using AXI-Gard, the material is easily pumped into the MP-TP connection in one-quarter of the time of a typical grouting operation with a similar connection. In addition to the obvious technical and commercial advantages, the product significantly reduces environmental impact through the elimination of grouts within this connection and decreases operational and vessel times.

Why Open Innovation?

Aubin has a long history of open innovation, having worked with a range of organisations, multinational energy companies and micro-enterprises, universities, government bodies and industry groups on technology challenges and KTPs.

Open innovation offers the ability to share knowledge and experience with different parties, bringing in an additional level of expertise. This can enable transformational change, essential when delivering challenging projects.  At an engagement event at Net-Zero Technology Centre, KTN’s Dr Abigail Hird presented the KTN-iX platform and highlighted the SPR challenge.

Aubin was selected from a variety of companies to continue discussions for future projects based on the AXI-Gard technology. This provided end-user verification opportunities for the technology within the offshore wind sector.

Dr Callum Scullion, Product Development Manager at Aubin, said, “The project has allowed Aubin to engage with a leading player within offshore wind sector and the wider innovation ecosystem.  Since this project, we have found additional areas of opportunity within offshore wind, including conventional grouting, from our 30+ years of oil and gas cementing expertise.

Following on from this project and through our relationships with KTN and Innovate UK, we have been working with the University of Aberdeen on a floating wind project funded by ORE Supergen and ORE Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence.”

Results and Impacts

The KTN-iX programme has helped Aubin successfully define an industry need and provide a solution to a new customer, resulting in the launch of novel, patented technology. Due to the lead times of this project, revenue has not been immediate.

Why KTN-iX?

Through their network of powerful connections, KTN has helped connect Aubin with new partners, industry, government, academia and the wider innovation ecosystem, accelerating the time it has taken for this idea to become a real-world solution.

“I believe that the KTN-iX opportunities are an effective solution for any company who is faced with a challenge but don’t have the technology, expertise or resources required to develop an immediate solution.

As a solution provider, I have found KTN easy to work within a variety of touchpoints, be it in early or late stage TRL development projects. The great part of the KTN-iX challenges is that they provide partners with a real need, not just a nice-to-have wish list.  KTN can help facilitate engagement, provide useful feedback during early proposal stages and help provide context when engaging with new industry partners.” Scullion said.

iX Team Insights

“All it took was an hour of effort to get in front of key industry stakeholders and kick-start an invaluable relationship.”

Challenge Lead and KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Manager for Energy, John Ransford, offers some behind-the-scenes insights:

“As the Challenge Holder, ScottishPower Renewables were looking for the solutions but were missing the contacts to search outside its supply chain.

Through the iX platform, it took around an hour to complete the application, and this is how Aubin enters, with minimum internal cost, a relationship with a new major client.

This is where the iX cross-sector approach helps to connect challenge holders with the innovators who are already working on the solutions. 

As the challenge finalist, Aubin received a commercial opportunity to deliver their solution, with support available from KTN and the wider Innovate UK network.

We look forward to following Aubin’s journey with ScottishPower Renewables and supporting any future opportunities for further growth and development.”

If you’re an innovator or SME, the Innovation Exchange programme could be the answer to accelerating your innovative product or solution and connecting with new markets and partners.

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