Research in Geesthacht: the floating laboratory is now examining the Elbe

Geesthacht

Research: The floating lab is now examining the Elbe


Volker Dzaak (left) and Daniel Pröfrock (right, both Hereon) together with Kai Klimenko (Hitzler Shipyard) explore the new research platform.

Photo: Dirk Palapies

Temperature, acidity, or impurity content: The Helmholtz Center hopes to get important answers from the Tesperhude research station.

designed. New login the banks of the Elbe has been showing up for a few weeks now, now it’s here: Am Investor in Tesperhude has a research platform Helmholtz Center he fixed. Ship from Hitzler Shipyard I dragged the pontoon with the structure into place last week in the morning, the journey took an hour. The gangway connects the station with the shore. The berth is designed for at least 20 years of operation.

The floating pontoon is nine meters long and six meters wide. The superstructure has a standing height, the hollow body of the pontoon has a creep height of 1.57 meters. In addition to a lot of cables and a large amount of empty space that is free for later optional retrofitting, you will find tanks for used water that accumulates in the body.

Research Station: Pontoon still has room for upgrade

Even if the station with the structure of an ocean-going container resembles a houseboat, it is not manned. Once configured, the systems work independently. You should check that everything is okay about once a month. Otherwise, the station can also be remotely monitored using a computer. However, the delivery of the first measurement data will last until August. Technicians and scientists now have their hands full to install the measuring devices, and there is also no lightning rod on the outside.




The research platform is part of the EU research project Danubius-RI and the Helmholtz Moses project. It is financed by the Land of Schleswig-Holstein and the European Regional Development Fund. The platform is designed to help you solve various questions. Among other things, scientists are interested in how river-sea systems change as a result of human influences and what are the drivers of these changes. How sustainable human use can contribute to maintaining or restoring healthy rivers and coastal seas – in this case, the tidal Elbe and the German Gulf. In addition, the impact of climate change and more frequent extremes (storm surges and low water levels) should be explained. The data flow should be visible to the interested public.

Tesperhude becomes an important address in the measurement network

To improve knowledge, measurement systems will continuously and rapidly provide data on important parameters such as flow, temperature, nutrients, carbon, oxygen or the pollutant content of the Elbe water. Measurement data is sent by radio to HZG.

This makes Tesperhude an important address in the scientific measurement network. The analyzes are closely related to the analyzes of the operators of other observation stations on the tidal Elbe. The Helmholtz Center itself serves another measuring station in Cuxhaven.


Volker Dzaak (Coastal Research) and Daniel Pröfrock (Inorganic Environmental Chemistry) from Hereon show the inner workings of the container: two pipes running along the walls that guide the sucked-in water from the Elbe through a branching system to different measuring stations. This is necessary because some stations require filtered water. “The heart of the system is the ferry box where most things are steered,” explains Daniel Pröfrock. Water is pumped from an inlet to a measuring circuit containing a plurality of sensors. These are ‘classics’ such as pH value, temperature, oxygen content and water conductivity. The system also acts as an interface to data that is determined by other sensors.

The content of gases and metals in water is tested


On the front there are three fields for detecting nutrients that play an important role in the water, such as ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, sulfates, phosphates and silicates.

There are settling tanks towards the door. Particles accumulate here and settle in the tank for over a month. They are harvested – it can weigh up to four kilograms – and analyzed in the laboratory. Other analyzers measure carbon dioxide and nitrogen compounds such as nitrous oxide. The background is the question to what extent marine regions can bind climate-damaging gases and thus remove them from the atmosphere. “The proportion of gases in the water is measured. This allows us to draw conclusions about the implementation processes, explains Daniel Pröfrock.

On the other side is a mass spectrometer to measure the metal content of the water. Its use on board is a difficult matter. “This is only possible because we have a special device here that balances the waves. She built our workshop – reports Volker Dzaak. The problem is with the vacuum pumps that ensure the system remains air-free. They rotate at up to 40,000 revolutions per minute and are extremely sensitive to lateral movements and vibrations – from waves, for example.

Refrigerator keeps fresh bottled water samples

The rest of the interior is a small server and a fridge. The system automatically collects water samples into bottles that are refrigerated fresh until taken to the laboratory. Another is used to produce clean water.

Incidentally, the steel from which the pontoon is built is recycled. It comes from an old river boat and was stored at the Hitzler shipyard for years. “The thickness of the sheets is phenomenal, we couldn’t scrap it,” says Kai Klimenko, Managing Director of Hitzler.

Thursday, July 21, 2022 at 2:02 pm

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