Ice tank – 90 m research facility

With a usable ice sheet of 76 x 12 m, the ice tank in St. John's is one of the largest facilities of this type in the world. With temperatures ranging down to -25  °C , this indoor, refrigerated tow-tank facility simulates realistic Arctic and northern marine conditions with the ability to grow ice 2.5 mm an hour to a maximum thickness of 200 mm. All types of full-scale ice conditions can be modelled from grey ice to multi-year ice as well as level ice, drifting pack ice, columnar ice, ice ridges, glacial and multiyear ice, bergy bits and growlers, among others. The NRC has widely validated expertise in recreating the material properties of sea ice at model scale which is crucial to the evaluation of vessel and structure performance in ice conditions.

Our capabilities

Tests performed in this facility include:

  • ship resistance
  • ship self-propulsion
  • offshore simulation
  • captive and free maneuvering in ice
  • ice forces on moored and fixed structures

At 90 m long, 12 m wide and 3 m deep, the tank's size allows offshore structures and ship models to be tested at higher speeds and for longer durations, providing more data per run. The tank's width makes it possible to perform manoeuvring studies and conduct multiple trial runs for each sheet of ice.

The ice tank is equipped with an 80,000 kg, 745 kW carriage with a maximum speed of 4 m/s and a drive force of 60 kN. A separate service carriage allows for ice management and ice ridge construction. Refrigeration is supplied by an ammonia-based system with 26 evaporators and computerized control capable of 2.5 mm/hr growth at -20  °C . Model ice, or EGADS ice, has been specially developed by the NRC to mimic the scale properties of sea ice. This formulation is grown under controlled conditions to have a fine grain columnar construction with controllable density closely matching both the flexural strength and crushing strength of real sea ice at model scale.

Instrumentation includes:

  • force measurement using strain gage load cells
  • model displacement and motions
  • accelerometer arrays
  • under and above water video
  • accurate level ice
  • pack ice
  • rubble ice
  • ice ridge modeling

The tank's 12 m width makes it possible to perform manoeuvring studies and to conduct three trial runs for each sheet of ice, thereby improving cost effectiveness. A large amplitude planar motion mechanism can also be deployed for measuring manoeuvring performance of vessels in ice or open water and for simulating changes in ice drift heading on fixed structures.

Why work with us

In working with industry to bridge the gap between innovation and commercialization, the NRC plays a critical role in de-risking and demonstrating technologies in order to support industry bringing them to market. Working with the NRC offers you the competitive advantage of world-class, customizable testing facilities combined with the broad knowledge and experience of our in-house research staff. The NRC capitalizes on our professional employees who have extensive experience in advanced engineering for complex water environments.