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Remote High Power for Subsea Emergencies

Status: AWARD END DATE: 8/31/2018


During the Macondo well disaster, there were two instances of miswiring and two backup battery failures affecting the electronic and hydraulic controls for the blowout preventer (BOP)’s blind shear ram (BSR) – an emergency hydraulic device with two sharp cutting blades. Due to the backup battery failures, the BOP’s blind shear ram was not functioning as intended and was unable to control the well by cleanly cutting the drill pipe and containing the well.

The goal of this project is to directly address one of the critical failures that occurred during this major accident by developing a combination of two new technologies using batteries and high-power supercapacitors. The batteries provide the trickle charge to the high-power supercapacitors which provide the necessary power to activate the blind shear ram. This work will pave the way for improved energy storage and power supply solutions that enable not only next generation blowout preventers to reliably operate and provide a safer environment for the exploration and production of oil in subsea environments, but to provide electrical high-power for a range of subsea equipment needs.

The specific goals are to:

  • Design and fabricate high power, high voltage nanoporous nickel fluoride (NP-NF) thin-film supercapacitors
  • Design and fabricate high capacity, thin-film Li ion batteries to trickle charge the supercapacitors
  • Stack and integrate NP-NF thin-film supercapacitors with thin-film Li ion batteries
  • Develop a prototype supercapacitor-battery unit for electrical testing under subsea environmental conditions at 16,000 psi