Dredging Engineering, Trenching & Deepsea Mining

Machinery for the treatment of soil and/or bulk goods are constituting an interface between Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering. Within this framework one must think of dredging machinery, tunnel drilling machines and equipment for the treatment of bulk goods. This field comprises excavation, transport and sedimentation processes of soil, rock and bulk goods that are brought about by human intervention and controlled by means of the appropriate machinery. The purpose in this is to realize or maintain "constructions" and to mine, transfer or treat building materials or ores. Examples of the constructions mentioned above are: ports, channels, land reclamation, cores of dykes and (drilling) tunnels. Examples of the treatment of materials are: soil treatment, mixed heap systems and the separation of materials when mining minerals. Examples of transference are: the transshipment of bulk materials, conveyor belts in the mining industry and hydraulic transport of solids. An important development in this is the drilling of tunnels in "feeble" ground.

The designing of and working with the equipment mentioned above is primarily determined by physical processes, such as loosening up rock, soil or bulk materials, vertical and horizontal transport, positioning in the means of transport, treatment and positioning of the material in a desired geometry.

To design dredging equipment, one first has to understand the processes involved.

The fundamental research focusses on the cutting processes in sand, clay and rock, stationary and non-stationary flow of mixtures through pipelines, the sedimentation in hoppers, mixture forming in cutterheads, the behavior of cutter dredgers under offshore conditions, while more applied research has been carried out on many different subjects usually in cooperation with the dredging industry.

When designing machinery, a large number of restrictions play an important part. They all relate to local circumstances, such as the availability of facilities, the condition of the soil or bulk goods, the availability of resource-rich areas for the purpose of elevation, dumping sites for the removal of materials from digged-in constructions, wind and weather conditions, environmental requirements, available energy and a large number of other technical, administrative and economic restrictions. Furthermore, it is required to possess a profound insight into the availability of highly sophisticated mechanical constructions that often have to operate under heavy and dynamic load conditions due to the aggressive environment.

The education of MSc students has always been based on developing the problem solving capabilities of the students. In general the final MSc thesis has always been directed to solve complex state of the art problems mainly from the industry. Based on a problem analysis founded on the fundamental physical processes, conceptual solutions have to be generated. A multi-criteria analysis has to be carried out resulting in the most promising solution, which has to be ‘designed’. Since 1977 roughly 200 students graduated and 5 PhD thesis have successfully been defended.

The core curriculum for dredging engineering consists of 5 subjects totaling 18ECTS. Including this into the offshore core curriculum gives 93ECTS including the thesis. This leaves 27 ECTS for elective courses. The core dredging subjects are as follows:

Dredge Pumps and Slurry Transport – 4ECTS

The aim of this course is to review the basic rules and models for handling mixture transport in dredging installations and to explain the physical processes governing the mixture transport and their description in predictive models

Dredging Processes I – 4ECTS

This course prepares one to design and optimize a pipeline - pump system for slurry transport. Factors including the length and slope as well as overall pipeline wear and energy efficiency are all considered in relation to the rate of solid material transport.
The course focuses on 3 main dredging processes: the cutting of sand, clay and rock.
These processes are explained in detail during the continuation of this course.
There are exercises which allow participants to apply the knowledge gained in practical situations.

Dredging Processes II – 3ECTS

This is a continuation of Dredging Processes I. The course will describe in detail how to be able to calculate Hopper settling and what breaching processes are most suitable in certain conditions. Dredging is constanly updating it's techniques. In this course the more modern technology of jets will be explained in detail.

CFD for Dredging & Offshore Engineering – 3ECTS

Computational fluid dynamics will show students the underlying physics behind CFD. The course consists of a project and a written exam. Students will be asked to complete a programming exercise which will focuss on analysing CFD results. 

Offshore Geotechnical Engineering – 4ECTS

Offshore Geotechnical Engineering will cover the complexity of the soil behaviour, including non-linearity and irreversibility. Soils interact among different physical phenomena, these different phenomena will be explained in the course. The behaviour of soils has a strong grade of uncertainty, therefore, it is of high importance to be able to predict the behaviour as well as possible.


For research on Dredging go to: Dredging Engineering