A new facility for HR Wallingford, the world-renowned civil engineering and environmental hydraulics company, will house what is believed to be the world’s largest wave simulator.

Construction has now begun on the 17,000 square foot extension to the Froude Modelling Hall located in the Howbery Business Park, the UK’s first solar-powered business park.

The facility will feature the company’s new 75-metre long wave simulator along with its state-of-the-art ship simulation centre, which will allow engineering experts to accurately model the erosion around bridges and other water-based structures. It will also feature an electronics laboratory, where the company’s wave-makers and instruments will be produced.

“This unique facility will enhance our scour, sediment and structure modelling capabilities, and help us investigate more of the challenges faced by our clients in the maritime, coastal and energy sectors. It will also allow us to extend our flood protection product test facilities,” explains HR Wallingford director Dr Keith Powell.

The purpose-built Ship Simulation Centre is equipped with four real-time simulators, including two tug simulators and has a water depth of two metres, allowing flows of up to five cubic metres per second and wave heights of up to half a metre.

The simulation system uses sophisticated techniques to represent the spatial and temporal behaviour of a ship. Hydrodynamic modelling includes degree-of-freedom ship responses to waves, wind and currents, allowing for both lift and drag effects and close quarter effects such as shallow water, bank effects, bow and stern thrusters, ship interaction and collisions.

“The extension gives HR Wallingford one of the most sophisticated ship navigation simulation centres in the world,” said HR Wallingford group manager of ships Dr Mark McBride. “For our clients, this means access to world- class expertise combined with high-quality facilities to provide a unique environment which ensures that projects are carried out to the maximum benefit of our clients.”

The extension to HR Wallingford’s existing 250,000 square foot plot will include environmentally friendly features such as a permeable paving system, which will help alleviate flooding as it allows groundwater to disperse naturally into the ground rather than through a piped drainage system into the river.

Construction work on the facility is expected to be complete by April 2014.