Asterix and Obelix – the largest pressure chambers in their class
The world’s largest pressure chambers were recently unveiled, when NUI opened its hyperbaric test centre on the 1st of September 2020. The pressure chambers, named Asterix and Obelix, feature a unique design combined with high functionality. Built by Optime Subsea, they are the largest in their class.
“Asterix and Obelix were a distinctive challenge as far as pressure chambers are concerned, because they are unique on both a Norwegian and international scale,” says Rolf Røssland, CEO of NUI AS.
A unique project
What made this project unique is first and foremost that both pressure tanks are amongst the world’s largest.
“The pressure chambers we have delivered to NUI are, as far as we understand, the biggest in their class globally. Obelix has an inner diameter of 1.8 metres and a maximum pressure of 700 bars, while Asterix has an inner diameter of 1.2 metres and a maximum pressure of 1000 bars. This corresponds to water depths of 7 000 and 10 000 metres, respectively,” explains Jan-Fredrik Carlsen, CEO of Optime Subsea.
The size of these pressure chambers enables the testing of large machinery, which are to be sent down to extremely deep water. Both Carlsen and Røssland are happy about both the collaboration and the end result.
“I am very pleased with the delivery from Optime Subsea. What characterises a good manufacturer is not just delivering a good end product, but also how they handle the challenges along the way. Optime has proven to be the right choice for us. All obstacles have been handled well by a professional team and the end product is absolutely in line with expectations,” says Røssland.
Each chamber weighs 140 tonnes and was built, tested, and certified for use at Optime Subsea in Notodden. Next, the pressure chambers were transported and then installed at NUI in Bergen. The project to complete and deliver the chambers was set at 35 million Norwegian Krones.
Testing machines that will operate in deep water
Both Asterix and Obelix have Optime Subsea’s unique design and technical solutions onboard. To date, the oil service company has delivered 12 pressure chambers, in different sizes and with different pressures, globally.
Pressure chambers are mostly used to test machines that are to be sent down into deep water. This is to ensure that they can withstand the ambient pressure at their particular water operating depth.
“Companies operating in subsea oil and gas are the primary customers for such systems. However, we have also delivered smaller pressure chambers to various institutions that will send machines into the sea for research purposes. In addition, we are actively developing solutions for other industries. For example, we see pressure processing of food and lumber as one of many exciting future opportunities,” adds Jan-Fredrik Carlsen.
Optime Subsea’s philosophy is to develop innovative and cost-effective solutions that will simplify a client’s operations. In recent years, Optime has worked hard to develop a broad expertise in pressure related technology, which will without a doubt benefit both existing and future customers.