Component Testing for Modular Pier Replacement at McMurdo Station, Antarctica: Inflatable Pontoons, Gelbo Flex and Full-Scale Cold Storage/Fold Tests
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER HANOVER NH COLD REGIONS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING LAB
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The National Science Foundation is constantly striving to improve the efficiency and reliability of its support functions for the United States Antarctic Program. The annual ship offload at McMurdo Station is currently dependent on an unreliable ice pier and a lightweight, rapidly deployable floating causeway system is one potential solution to mitigate challenges associated with the ice pier. This assessment focused on determining the durability and strength of the pontoon fabric when tested at Antarctic temperatures by using a cold-modified Gelbo flex ASTM F392 test. The neoprene on nylon pontoon fabric performed well during the Gelbo tests. One of the three samples leaked during pressure tests after 510 cycles while the remaining 2 samples survived intact for all 1510 cycles. In addition, the full-scale pontoon was cycled through 10 periods of cold soaking at 40 C followed by rapid inflation outdoors. Baseline air mass loss calculations before and after the cold cycles indicated that the tests caused no leaks or damage. Based on these results, a field trial of the LMCS at McMurdo Station is recommended provided the remaining components are suitable for the logistical needs and can function in the required environmental conditions.
- Civil Engineering