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The Halley Research Station is an internationally important platform for global earth, atmospheric and space weather observation in a climate sensitive zone. Built on a floating ice shelf in the Weddell Sea, Halley VI is the world's first re-locatable research facility. This award-winning and innovative research station provides scientists with state-of-the-art laboratories and living accommodation, enabling them to study pressing global problems from climate change and sea-level rise to space weather and the ozone hole – first discovered at Halley in 1985.

The problem

Following the earlier demise of the British Antarctic Survey's (BAS) first four Halley research stations which had become buried in ice, the organisation realised that their current station Halley V was on the wrong side of a potential fault line which was expected to merge into the ice sheet. With the station's legs buried in ice with no realistic chance of chance of moving it, BAS took the decision to commission a new research station which would be unique in its ability to be relocated should future need arise.

The solution

TSL Fluidpower has a long established reputation for providing sophisticated and innovative hydraulic solutions. TSL Fluid Power were instrumental in the design, development and manufacture of the legs and hydraulic system on which the new research station modules would be mounted. Due to the severe environmental conditions where the station was located there were many technical issues to overcome and several new techniques had to be developed to successfully meet the requirements needed to operate the station.

Halley VI consists of eight modules covering the research, energy and living area requirements of the scientists and engineers who spend long periods on the ice. The modules which weigh up to 220 tonnes each are sat on four ski-fitted legs (the largest social hub module is on six legs). The legs are operated by hydraulic cylinders mounted inside the legs and are used to raise the modules to their working height and keep above the drifting snow level. The hydraulics cylinder also provides the ability to lower the modules should the need arise to re-locate them. Each module can be independently towed to a new site on its skis.

Halley VI was sited on what was believed to be the safe side of the potential fault line and after successful commissioning of the new station, Haley V was decommissioned and removed by ship from Antarctica. Halley VI had been operating successfully for several years when it was discovered the crack in the ice was beginning and heading towards the Haley VI site necessitating the lowering and relocation of the entire station.

This work is currently being carried out and the hydraulic system is now being used as it was designed for, the entire station relocating to 23 Km from the original site.

TSL are still closely involved with the project and have recently supplied a large spares order prior to the relocation site should any parts be damaged or become necessary during the move.