Imagine doing deepwater research while staying on dry land. That will be a reality when the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) — a joint venture between NUS and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) — becomes operational.
TCOMS, a national Centre of Excellence, was launched on 31 October, with Guest-of-Honour Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) gracing the occasion. Scheduled for completion in 2019, and supported by Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), TCOMS aims to develop and validate innovative concepts and solutions for marine and offshore engineering (M&OE) operations through strategic global partnerships with industry, research institutions and academia.
In his opening address, Mr Iswaran highlighted the uncertainties in the global economy and the downturn faced by the M&OE industry. “Even as we grapple with today’s real challenges in the marine and offshore engineering industry, we should continue to build capabilities for the long-term and be ready for the next up-cycle,” he said. He believed that the long-term outlook for the M&OE industry remained positive and shared that the government would be pumping in close to $107 million into the TCOMS infrastructure.
Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR, emphasised that TCOMS would enable the M&OE industry to expand Singapore’s offerings into a comprehensive suite of capabilities, from design and engineering to production. “This will preposition Singapore’s enterprises to be ready not only for opportunities when the oil and gas market turns around, but also in emerging areas that require technology enablers such as underwater robotics, ocean renewable energy and aquaculture,” he said.
Elaborating on the roles of the Centre, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan pointed out that TCOMS would drive Singapore’s marine and offshore R&D roadmap. “At the same time, TCOMS will also be an active research performer, working closely with collaborators from academia and industry to co-create innovative designs and to pursue solutions to challenges that the industry faces as it moves into the next phase,” he said.
A core feature of TCOMS is the next-generation Deepwater Ocean Basin research facility, which employs advanced wave and current generation systems to simulate ocean environments. It is coupled to petascale supercomputing resources at the National Supercomputing Centre Singapore. Measuring 60m long, 48m wide and 12m deep or the size of some 20 Olympic swimming pools, the basin includes a 50m-deep centre pit, currently the deepest in the world, which allows researchers to simulate ocean depths of up to three kilometres.
Prof Tan said that in support of TCOMS, the University would harness its broad-based and world-class expertise, including the Centre for Offshore Research & Engineering, Keppel-NUS Corporate Laboratory, Institute of Data Science, Tropical Marine Science Institute and Advanced Robotics Center.
Professor Chan Eng Soon, TCOMS CEO and Provost’s Chair Professor in NUS Engineering, explained that a key differentiator in TCOMS is the development of a simulation system featuring the integration of basin modelling, numerical modelling, smart-sensing and real-time data analytics. “This novel approach will not only enhance the value-added services for the clients, but also unleashes new opportunities to better understand non-linear fluid structure interactions in complex sea states,” he said.