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Essex could host world’s deepest and largest research pool

26 July 2015

The University of Essex has entered exploratory discussions to establish the world's deepest and largest research and training pool on its Colchester Campus.

Artist's impression of the pool, courtesy of Blue Abyss

Development partner, Blue Abyss says the pool, which will be 50m long and 50m deep, will be the UK and Europe’s premier marine and space research facility - offering the ability to simulate outer space and deep sea environments in one location.

The scope of the facility, which was showcased at the UK Space Conference in Liverpool, ranges from human spaceflight research programmes to environmental monitoring. The facility will also specialise in training in advanced commercial diving techniques and free diving alongside research into marine environments, human physiology, remotely operated vehicle and aerospace development.

The University and Blue Abyss will be working over the coming year to develop plans to locate the facility on the Knowledge Gateway research and business park at the Colchester Campus.

“This is a very exciting proposal for us, with many elements that fit very well with our strengths as a University," says University of Essex Registrar Bryn Morris. “Most people will already know about our work with robotic fish to monitor water quality, but our Human Performance Unit is also based at our Colchester Campus and we have many other specialisms which complement this project including psychology, marine conservation and of course data analytics which underpins all of these areas.

“What also really interests us in this proposal are the business engagement and SME spin-out opportunities that could be generated from this development and we look forward to working alongside Blue Abyss to see how it can be delivered.”

The Blue Abyss project already involves GMW as architects, 3PM as project managers, Pell Frischmann as civil engineers and Gardiner and Theobald as quantity surveyors. Professor Walter Kuehnegger, one of NASA's Apollo Lunar Exploration Principle Investigators, has also joined the Blue Abyss team as a consultant.

"Being based in Colchester, we were delighted that the University has enthusiastically backed our vision to create this world leading research facility," says Blue Abyss managing director, John Vickers. "All the ingredients are here; the location near to Stansted Airport and the North Sea offshore industry via Harwich; a superb campus site and an excellent research base within the University's academic departments. We are now intent on developing links with a number of the world's highest profile organisations and companies and see this as a key step towards realising our objectives.”


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