This world class research facility is the culmination of a NIST Grant and the University of Miami’s continuing commitment to marine research at the RSMAS campus on Virginia Key. The building integrates seawater labs, traditional wet labs, and a one-of-a-kind SUSTAIN oceanographic research component while establishing an iconic landmark at the gateway to Virginia Key.

Moses Engineering, working with C7A (Cambridge, Mass.), led the design of the traditional laboratory MEPF systems, as well as the seawater system and the SUSTAIN wind tunnel. This $2 Million seawater system is literally the “life safety system” for the Aplysia, fish and coral tanks. UM rears Aplysia as the definitive neurobiological research platform world-wide. Moses Engineering designed one-pass seawater life support systems at both 52°F (Aplysia) and ambient (corals and fish). The system draws water from the bay and pumps it thru settling tanks and glass bead filtration and then is transferred to the lab building penthouse for final filtration, cooling, heat recovery and gravity distribution to research tanks via break tanks. All systems are N+1 redundant, including piping. An A line and a B line are needed to alternate as needed to kill seawater growth in the piping. The seawater system is equipped with quality monitoring sensors, including the presence of oil.

The complexity of the seawater system is only exceeded by the wind tunnel. The investigator, Dr. Brian Haus, required a wind tunnel generating Category 5 hurricane forces over his wind-wave tank. The wind-wave tank is a massive acrylic tank that includes a hydraulic wave-maker and a “beach” for testing. The tank is half full of water with the upper three feet utilized to bring Category 5 hurricane forces to bear on the waves. Our firm designed a 1750 hp vane-axial fan (nine feet in diameter) to provide 660,000 cfm at 12 in. w.g. This develops 10,000 fpm at the wind-wave tank. And the wind-wave tank needed to be heated and/or cooled to 90°F/54°F.

Moses Engineering designed the system in concert with McNamara Salvia (structural engineers) and UM College of Engineering (CFD analysis). Industrial ductwork (20’ x 25’) required structural analysis. The aerodynamic CFD analyses provided the design for vanes, vortex generators and honeycombs. Custom designed duct silencers (Vibro-Acoustics) addressed noise concerns for the immediate neighbor, Miami Seaquarium, and our firm coordinated all efforts. The impact of a weekly four hour 1750 hp fan operation on demand charges was evident to M&A. Therefore, controls and a 4160V electrical design were developed to transfer the 1750 hp wind tunnel fan to the site emergency generator for operation above 15Hz. A 2.5 MW generator was included in the design to serve the entire campus given Virginia Key’s vulnerability to hurricanes.

Moses Engineering responded to all the program-specific requirements and led the development of those requirements to systems that would meet the owner’s needs. The lesson here is not that Moses Engineering is a seawater or wind tunnel engineering firm, but that we do two things: 1. We truly listen. And 2. We do INNOVATIVE engineering!

OwnerUniversity of Miami

Project Size100,000 SF

ServicesDesign, Commissioning

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