The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is using QinetiQ's Hyperbaric Trials Unit (HTU) installed at the company's test centre in Haslar, Portsmouth, US, to support composite materials testing for the Royal Navy's submarine fleet.
Re-commissioned and refitted recently at QinetiQ's facility, the HTU is a versatile two compartment hyperbaric chamber designed to test and evaluate undersea and hyperbaric systems.
QinetiQ maritime platforms head Dr Jon Bayliss said: "The HTU can deliver substantial cost savings to submarine operators and diving/escape equipment suppliers by using a controlled environment to test complete systems and individual components prior to conducting essential but expensive sea trials."
Certified to test equipment of depths up to 1,500m, the HTU is used to assess submarine escape and diving systems and components, as well as to support other equipment development to meet the standards required to operate in extreme underwater environments.
In order to evaluate escape system components against any defined test standards, the system re-creates the actual underwater pressure, while being completely independent of the performance of the components being tested.
The HTU can also simulate escape from a distressed submarine (DISSUB) to support physiological and engineering studies.
Capable of reducing the acoustic signature of submarines, the composite materials will be used to reduce maintenance and operating costs of submarine construction.