A new facility at The University of Western Australia (UWA) will enable research and testing of solutions to some of WA’s most significant ocean engineering challenges, including protecting coastlines from flooding and erosion, finding new ways to harness renewable energy resources and gaining insights critical to protect and rehabilitate coral reefs.
Launched this month, the Coastal and Offshore Engineering Laboratory (COEL) comprises a 1900 square metre hydraulics laboratory.
It includes a 50-metre long wave flume to analyse deep and shallow water wave conditions, an ‘O’Tube’ flume that replicates waves and currents along seabeds and additional facilities to carry out coastal and oceanography research.
The facility is run by a team of UWA scientists who work closely with local industry.
Associate Professor Scott Draper from the UWA Oceans Graduate School said the new facility will facilitate world-leading research and innovation in offshore and coastal engineering.
“The laboratory brings together unique facilities that will provide us with the ability to carry out research at a local level, to benefit WA industry and the community,” Professor Draper said.
“Most importantly, through collaboration with industry, it will provide opportunities to develop innovative and unique engineering solutions to grow the blue economy, allowing us to capitalise on the opportunities our ocean has to offer, but also protect this important and precious resource.”
Associate Professor Draper said the laboratory could facilitate a vast scope of research.
“It is even being used by leading sports scientists to test open-water swimmers on how they perform in different wave conditions, and has potential to be used in growing industries such as aquaculture and marine renewable energy,” he said.
“We are also using the facility to research coral in an attempt to better rehabilitate coral reefs, which is vitally important for the future of ecosystems off the WA coast and for the future of our planet.”
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma said research at the new facility will improve understanding of the Western Australian coastline and offshore activity.
“This research will provide invaluable insights to help industry, governments and planning in WA,” Professor Chakma said.
“UWA’s world-class standing in engineering and oceanography, combined with the capabilities of this new facility, will be a great asset to the Western Australian community.”
The facility and research have been made possible with the support of industry and the State and Federal governments.