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Antarctic station’s steelwork passes the test

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nAntarcticaNov13Weighing more than 500t, the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley V research station, located on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the southern Weddell Sea, has been decommissioned and recycled with all the steel found to be in perfect condition.

Over a period of one month, the station, including its steel superstructure, was systematically unbolted, removed from the ice shelf and shipped to South Africa.

The original steel frame consisted of Grade 50E and Grade 50EE steel sections with a three degree tapered flange. In a modular construction programme the steel had been delivered to site in less than 6t loads. The frame was then bolted and held in place by Lindapter girder clamps.

Despite the structure having an intended lifespan of 20 years, the girder clamps withstood 28 years of extreme conditions and were also said to be in prime condition.

The station’s steelwork had to endure the Antarctic weather, which is extreme. During the summer months the continent has 24 hours of sunlight a day, which warmed up the steelwork, while in the totally dark winter months the external frame cooled as low as minus 55 degrees.

Lindapter manufactured customised clamps for the project, using blackheart malleable iron to provide significant tolerance and strength to withstand thermal flexing.

“Conditions are extremely inhospitable at times,” said Steve Canham, British Antarctic Survey Building Officer. “But it’s a non-corrosive atmosphere, which explains the steelwork’s condition, as we have high winds and snow, but no rain.”

Situated on the same ice shelf, the British Antarctic Survey’s latest steel framed research station, Halley VI, is now in use.

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