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Marine Construction Technologies

Marine Construction Technologies is a “public benefit” company.  Its mission is to develop innovative, engineering-driven solutions that provide both environmental and economic benefit to the marine construction industry.

The innovative technology of the company’s  “Reinhall Pile™” was necessitated by marine construction regulations intended to protect endangered marine life.  Marine Construction’s patented double wall pile reduces noise from impact pile driving by over 20 dB – a significant breakthrough –  below the injury threshold for sensitive wildlife.  Marine life might be otherwise damaged or killed by the acoustic effects of the pulsating sound waves typically created when piles are driven into the waterbed.


A Washington State Department of Transport blog entry in April 2015 explained the problem:

“New construction research is poised to make big waves both here and far abroad. We’ve been working in partnership with the University of Washington (UW) to find ways to reduce the noise created by underwater pile driving that will not only benefit and protect marine wildlife in the Puget Sound, but may also change marine construction practices around the globe.

Piles are long poles or tubes driven into the seabed to provide the foundation support for ferry terminals, docks, bridges and other structures. The noise created by hammering the piles into the seabed floor is easily carried underwater and can harm, and even kill, sensitive marine wildlife. As a result of those impacts, strict regulations on marine construction projects make them expensive and challenging to complete.

Our team of researchers, and environmental, construction and ferry engineers has worked with scientists to study the detrimental effects of underwater pile driving on marine environments for years. In 2008, the team invited both the construction industry and the academic fields to come up with a quieter pile design solution.

UW’s Mechanical Engineering department submitted a winning proposal for a new pile design technology. With our research-funding support, UW engineers and graduate students studied the mechanics of why pile driving is so loud, how the sound is transmitted underwater and how to reduce that sound. With this knowledge, they created a double-wall pile design that confines the installation noise within the pile itself.”

Nearly 10 years of testing culminated in the relatively simply solution of using a double-pile method: an outer pile serving as a noise shield, while only the inner pile is struck. The piles are joined by a special coupling shoe, and the noise reduction on average was found to be about 20 decibels. Further, researchers found that the double-pile method can be used with conventional techniques and equipment.

Current noise mitigation methods are only partially effective.  The Reinhall Piles™ offer advantages over the typical “bubble curtain” of abatement as it can mitigate the reverberations of sound at the sediment level by burying the harmful noises; whereas the bubble curtain is strictly used in the water.   (from the Seattle Daily News Journal).

Marine Construction Technologies are in full scale testing in the Puget Sound.

This University of Washington innovation was developed and tested with support from WSDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the Port of Tacoma, and several leading engineering and environmental consulting firms.

Category: Environmental Technlogies
Based in: Seattle, WA
Founded in: 2012

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