The Importance of Scour Protection for Offshore Wind Farms

Offshore wind farms—the first of which was constructed in Denmark back in 1991—continue to dramatically increase in number and geographic extent. By 2050, it’s estimated that global offshore wind energy capacity will hit 1550 Gigawatts.

Turbines placed offshore tap into the generally stronger and steadier winds found out to sea, where airstreams encounter less frictional drag and fewer vertical obstructions compared with terrestrial settings. They also can be appealing given they’re less controversial in terms of siting, there are fewer issues over property rights and visually impacted sightlines, and because they can be situated close to big—and electricity-hungry—coastal cities.

The majority of offshore wind-turbine foundations are of the monopile design: a base formed by a single column. Monopiles in particular are vulnerable to the erosive process of scour, which can impact turbine operations, diminish functional lifespans, and even, in extreme cases, threaten to topple turbine structures.

Fortunately, seabed scour is very much among the phenomena that can be remedied and combated by innovative HYDROTEX fabric formworks from Synthetex. Our HYDROTEX solutions offer many competitive advantages for offshore wind farms as compared to traditional scour-protection systems such as riprap or packed rocks.

How Scour Impacts Offshore Wind Turbines

Scour refers to the removal of seabed (or lakebed) sediment or other material by the action of currents and waves. Encountering a monopile foundation, flowing water—whether driven by currents, waves, or both—speeds up and swirls around the structure with a vortex action. This removes sediment around the foundation structure, forming a scour hole. In the case of current action, the slowed water on the opposite side results in deposition of suspended sediment there, which can form a mound “downstream” of the scour hole.  Additionally, associated submarine cables required for the wind turbines may need protection from similar erosive forces on the seabed.

Because monopiles support turbines through lateral transfer of load, the formation of a scour hole can compromise stability. It also impacts the natural frequency of the turbine structure, which must be carefully calibrated with wave, wind, and turbine action. Because it effectively lengthens the monopile, a scour hole makes it more flexible, enhancing structural fatigue and potentially shortening the turbine’s lifespan.

Dealing With Scour

Designers may plan for the impacts of scour over time by installing a longer foundation pile, and/or install systems designed to mitigate scour. Such armoring systems may include riprap and other rock dumping, rocks packed into flexible containers, precast concrete mattresses, and geotextiles.

The Advantages of HYDROTEX Products in Offshore Wind Turbine Scour Protection

Compared with riprap or pre-cast concrete, the HYDROTEX fabric formworks we offer here at Synthetex offer numerous advantages when it comes to protecting offshore wind turbine foundations from scour and their submarine cables from erosion. Because they’re arranged on the site unfilled before being pumped in situ or on a barge or ship deck with fine aggregate concrete, our underwater-ready HYDROTEX mattresses, grout bags, subsea fabric formworks and other products are much easier to transport and install, and they conform to the subgrade or seabed. They can be positioned and filled from the ocean surface or, at greater depths, by divers or ROVs.

The ease and versatility offered by HYDROTEX installation, and the dynamic, exact-fit armoring these fabriforms provide, make our Synthetex products ideal for scour protection in offshore wind farms. Among the specific HYDROTEX products that may be used for such applications include:

Our Synthetex team of engineers and installation specialists will work closely with you to select the perfect HYDROTEX solution for your offshore wind turbine and submarine cable scour-protection needs. Besides all of the assistance we offer ahead of installation, our engineers and installation support technicians can provide on-site technical support as well.

Contact Synthetex for More Information on How HYDROTEX Can Protect Offshore Wind Turbines From Scour

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for more details on HYDROTEX scour protection in the context of offshore wind farms. For a free consultation or project estimate, give us a call at 1-800-253-0561 or 770-399-5051 or write to us online at the Synthetex website.

How Synthetex Can Help With Developing a Mining Erosion & Sediment Control Plan

As concern about the limited supply and carbon footprint of fossil fuels mounts, the world is seeing a major energy transition underway, with shifts toward renewable sources such as hydropower, wind power, solar power, and geothermal power. This is associated with an increased market for minerals, which means more mining—and thus a greater need for erosion and sediment control to support mining logistics while minimizing environmental and social impacts. The HYDROTEX fabric-formed concrete we offer here at Synthetex can very much be an important part of this equation.

The Burgeoning Demand for Energy Transition Metals

As a recent article in GreenBiz notes, this transition to a low-carbon energy future comes with increasing demand for raw materials in the form of the minerals that renewable-energy electricity generation demands. Copper, lithium, and cobalt are among the “energy transition metals” (ETMs) most fundamental to these technologies. “An electric car, for instance, requires six times the mineral input compared to a conventional car,” the authors—Samah El-Shahat and Musaab Almulla—explain, “while an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a typical gas-fired plant.”

With electric-car production projected to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming decades, resulting ramped-up use of lithium-ion batteries will be a significant driver of energy transition mineral (ETM) mining. The GreenBiz article points out that lithium extraction is “expected to see a considerable growth of about 40 times by 2040 to meet the Paris Agreement goals.” (The Paris Agreement is the international treaty adopted in 2015 on the heels of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. It aims to combat climate change by limiting greenhouse-gas emissions in order to keep the increase in global mean temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.)

With the expansion of the mining sector as part of the current energy transition, mining companies will need to address their “large social and environmental footprints, which are coming under greater scrutiny as investors shift capital into ESG funds,” the GreenBiz article states.

The control of erosion and the management of toxins, byproducts, and sediment are fundamental to effective and environmentally responsible mining. HYDROTEX fabric-formed concrete is here to assist with these objectives.

Mining Erosion Protection & Sediment Control Solutions From Synthetex

From reinforcing embankments and sealing tunnels to lining channels and retention ponds, state-of-the-art HYDROTEX formworks can help mining facilities tackle any number of erosion- and sediment-control needs.  Additionally, we have solutions to protect and/or provide ballast to geomembranes in tailings impoundments.

The exceptional customizability of HYDROTEX fabriforms, backed up by the ease with which they can be transported and installed, make them first-rate solutions for the mining industry. Mines are complex operations, often large-scale and commonly situated in remote settings. Our geotextiles are tailor-made for such challenges!

HYDROTEX fabriforms can be custom-ordered for a wide variety of applications and dimensions. Transported in rolls, these products require lower freight costs than prefabricated concrete blocks, riprap, and other precast alternatives. They are also far simpler to install, without the need for heavy machinery and large crews. Laid in place for the perfect fit and easy adjustability, HYDROTEX fabriforms are then pumped in place with fine aggregate concrete.

Cheaper to transport, with very little laydown area needed, and easier to install, these fabric formworks nonetheless confer equal or greater protection against environmental and mechanical degradation and contamination as those prefab products. They’re incredibly durable and require minimal long-term maintenance.  Why are they more durable?  Well, the geotextile fabric forms allow for bleed off of water from the concrete mix.  This reduction in water and therefore lowering of the water:cement ratio leads to approximately doubling of the concrete compressive strength after pumping into the fabric formworks.

Learn More About HYDROTEX Solutions for Mining Erosion Control & Sediment Management

Among the specific HYDROTEX products perfect for mining applications are:

Click on the above links for more details on each of these top-of-the-line HYDROTEX solutions. Please note that in channels that have lower flow, Synthetex can assist with a green channel option with the Enviromat FX. Utilizing a green solution can be of great benefit as it can assist with permitting. 

Turn to HYDROTEX for Mining Erosion & Sediment Control Solutions

Besides the exceptional quality and versatility of our HYDROTEX products, the Synthetex advantage means start-to-finish design support from our engineering team, training and technical support, including in the form of on-site consulting with regard to installation and construction needs. We’re here to make sure you get the most out of your HYDROTEX solution so it can perform superbly over the long haul!

To learn more about how HYDROTEX fabric-formed concrete can enhance your mining operations, reach out to the Synthetex team for a free consultation. You can get in touch with us here at the website, or by phone at 1-800-253-5061 or 770-399-5051.

The Importance of Proper Coal Ash Storage & How Synthetex Can Help

Recent moves by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) underscore the importance of properly storing coal ash, that byproduct of burning coal, to safeguard waterways, aquifers, ecosystems, and human health.

As the Associated Press reported earlier this year, the agency is for the first time moving to enforce requirements codified in 2015 regarding coal-ash management in landfills and impoundments.

Here at Synthetex, we can help coal-fired power plants properly secure coal-ash storage sites thanks to our custom HYDROTEX fabric formworks, which provide a robust and permanent protective armor over geomembrane liners. We’ll explain more about this solution in a bit, but first let’s look a bit more closely at the EPA’s recent actions and why coal ash is such a concern.

EPA Regulation of Coal Ash Storage & Disposal

The burning of coal produces an array of byproducts, a number of which—including fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, and flue-gas desulfurization material—are classed together as “coal ash.” You’ll also see coal ash referred to as “coal combustion residuals” (CCRs). Considerable amounts are produced in the U.S. every year: close to 130 million tons in 2014, for example, according to statistics from the American Coal Ash Association.

Coal ash is toxic, filled as it is with contaminants such as arsenic, mercury, and cadmium, and can pollute streams, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and the air itself. Both an environmental and public-health concern, CCRs were nonetheless only loosely regulated for many years. Some high-profile disasters this century brought the problem of coal ash to national attention. In 2008, a burst containment dike at a Kingston, Tennessee power plant resulted in a coal-ash spill that inundated 300-plus acres, demolished homes, and polluted two river systems. Then, in 2014, failure at a coal-ash pond in Eden, North Carolina released between 50,000 and 82,000 tons of coal ash as well as nearly 30 million gallons of contaminated wastewater into the Dan River.

This past January, the EPA reaffirmed its focus on protecting groundwater and other resources from CCR contamination via a number of actions. These included handling extension requests from dozens of plants regarding the closure of unlined coal-ash surface impoundments and notifying facilities in violation of standing CCR requirements. Its recent actions also included “laying out plans for future regulatory actions to ensure coal ash impoundments meet strong environmental and safety regulations,” as the agency’s press release stated.

Coal Ash Storage & How HYDROTEX Fabric-Formed Concrete Can Help

Power plants utilize geomembranes such as HDPE liners to line the channels and ponds used to contain coal ash. These liners can be damaged by a variety of environmental factors, from degradation through UV exposure to uplift from wind. Heavy equipment and vehicles used to move and deposit coal ash can also result in major damage to the liners. Given the environmental stakes involved—and given the expense of these liners and the associated CCR storage projects—such deterioration of the geomembrane is a serious concern.

That’s where HYDROTEX fabric-formed concrete from Synthetex come into play to save the day! Our custom fabriform mattresses can be laid on geomembranes and then pumped in situ with fine aggregate concrete to provide sturdy and incredibly durable armoring for the liner. Along with shielding the liner from UV rays, scouring winds, heavy machinery, and other sources of environmental and mechanical damage, these fabriform concrete mattresses also contribute to the geomembrane liner’s barrier between the stored coal ash and groundwater.

The ideal Synthetex product for coal-ash liner protection is our HYDROTEX Uniform Section Concrete Mattress. These formworks come in a variety of thicknesses ranging between 2 and 16 inches. This cast-in-place solution can be adapted to just about any configuration, offering a completely customizable option for armoring geomembranes. And transport and installation couldn’t be easier compared with the typical freight costs and the heavy-machinery and manpower demands of precast alternatives.

Turn to Synthetex for HYDROTEX Protection of Coal Ash Liners

Synthetex has an experienced engineering design support team for rigorous consulting, as well as proven on-site technical support during HYDROTEX installation. The Synthetex team is here for you every step of the way – throughout all project stages of budget costs, design, bidding, and installation – to ensure the most effective protection for coal-ash channel and pond liners. Our HYDROTEX Uniform Section Concrete Mattresses provides custom installation and long-lasting performance with minimal maintenance to support responsible and compliant CCR disposal.

Arrange a free consultation by calling 1-800-253-0561 or 770-399-5051, or by contacting us online.

Tied Concrete Block Mats vs. Synthetex’s Enviromat FX

Are you looking to prevent and control erosion along drainage ditches, upper channel slopes, outfalls, embankments, or any number of other surfaces that can be ravaged by runoff, current scour, or wave action? If so, you may find yourself weighing the relative merits of one product—Tied Concrete Block Mats—against our Synthetex HYDROTEX fabric formworks.

Specifically, our Enviromat Concrete Linings provide many advantages over Tied Concrete Block Mats, saving you time, money, and hassle while delivering top notch performance over the long term. In this blog post, we’ll run down the basics of our Enviromat FX solution—and detail just how well it stacks up against the competition!

TIED CONCRETE BLOCK MAT

Tied Concrete Block Mats (TCBMs) consist of precast concrete components cast within a geogrid to protect ditches, channels, boat ramps and launches, banks, bridge abutments, and other surfaces vulnerable to hydraulic erosion and velocities. After being shipped in rolls of precast concrete mats to the installation site, they’re typically rolled out and/or slid into place with trackhoes and skid steers out atop some sort of preinstalled underlayment.  Tied Concrete Block Mats are often designed in applications requiring vegetation, which has aesthetic as well as ecological benefits.

SYNTHETEX HYDROTEX ENVIROMAT CONCRETE LININGS

Our Synthetex Enviromat Concrete Linings are among our many innovative HYDROTEX fabric formworks. As compared with the precast concrete used in Tied Concrete Block Mats, our Enviromat FX solution consists of geotextile fabric forms laid out at the site by hand labor, not trackhoes and skid steers.  Once placed, the Hydrotex FX panels are pumped with high-strength fine aggregate concrete. The ability to lay out an unfilled fabric formwork to exactly match the contours and dimensions of a channel, ditch, embankment, or other structure allows for complete customization and ease of installation.  This installation method eliminates the waste at the end of the competition’s standard roll lengths.

The Enviromat Concrete Linings incorporate geotextile fabric areas that remain unfilled after the rest of the mat has been injected with concrete. After the concrete has set, these unfilled fabric segments allow for vegetation to establish through them.  Either a preseeded bed, or directly planted with willow stakes or other plantings, or primed with topsoil and then seeded – within a single growing season, the Enviromat Concrete Lining will typically have a comprehensive vegetative cover.

Such plantlife provides visual appeal, of course: obscuring the fabric formwork, softening the contours, and evoking naturally vegetated slopes, banks, and channel bed slopes. But there’s more to it than that: vegetation can further stabilize and shield a lined surface, and slow the pace of runoff and sheetflow while dissipating its potentially destructive energy. Plants also naturally filter and decontaminate soil and water, and, of course, offer a slew of other ecological services, including wildlife habitat and photosynthesis.

DECIDING BETWEEN TRADITIONAL PRECAST TIED CONCRETE BLOCK MATS & HYDROTEX ENVIROMAT CONCRETE LININGS

Being precast at central manufacturing facilities and then delivered (often over significant distances) to project sites, Tied Concrete Block Mats require substantial numbers of flatbed trucks, resulting in the following:

  • High freight cost
  • Increased environmental impacts from increased flatbed trucks on the roads
  • Elevated highway safety impacts
  • Impact to roadway maintenance and repair cost

Because it is precast on standard roll widths and lengths, TCBMs offer less fine-tuned customization than Enviromat. entail significantly greater shipping costs and installation equipment (trackhoes and skid steers) costs and manpower. A single truck ships 200,000 sq feet of the space-efficient, unfilled Enviromat formworks, whereas roughly forty-two (42) flatbed trucks would be required to transport the same volume of precast TCBMs (at 4,800 sq ft per truck).

Unrolling the precast concrete TCBMs requires more machinery and labor than installing the HYDROTEX geotextile forms, which can be easily positioned and maneuvered ahead of pumping with fine aggregate concrete.

OTHER ADVANTAGES OF SYNTHETEX HYDROTEX ENVIROMAT CONCRETE LININGS FOR EROSION & SCOUR PROTECTION

The ability to exactly customize Enviromat Concrete Linings for your site’s specific physical and design requirements is a major attribute of the HYDROTEX fabric-formed (and sometimes referred to generically as fabriform) concrete solution. Again, the reduced shipping cost and ease of installation, without the same need for large work crews and heavy machinery, are also highly attractive to budget and time-conscious managers and owners.

Besides protecting against hydraulic energy in a variety of ditch, channel, and embankment settings, Enviromat Fabric Formed Concrete Linings offer the opportunity to revegetate and protect water impacted structures and provide durable, low-maintenance protection long into the future.

Our Synthetex engineers also provide consultation and field questions about the installation process and equipment needs for the contractors installing the formworks, as well as on-site support. This ensures smooth and efficient installation and optimum extended performance.

GET IN TOUCH WITH SYNTHETEX TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT HYDROTEX ENVIROMAT CONCRETE LININGS CAN OFFER YOU

You can check out more detailed product specifications, explore case studies, and view a gallery of HYDROTEX Enviromat Concrete Linings in action right here.

If you have questions about whether Enviromat FX Concrete Linings (or another HYDROTEX fabriform solution) are ready for your site and project needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Synthetex team! We’d be more than happy to supply additional information, and advise how these fabric-formed concrete products could work for a particular infrastructure or specific environment. We’re available for free consultations by calling 1-800-253-0561 or 770-399-5051, or by contacting our office.