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Major step towards sustainable and efficient ship construction

Partners of an EU initiative have unveiled a recently assembled full-scale section of a ship’s hull made of composite materials to help reduce energy and maintenance costs.

Transport and Mobility

In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, shipowners, operators and builders are seeking solutions for improved sustainability, including lighter weight for reducing fuel use. Thanks to their advantages like weight savings and corrosion resistance, the use of advanced composite materials such as carbon fibre-reinforced polymers or plastics is gaining traction in the shipping industry where most vessels are still made of heavy steel. Enter the EU-funded RAMSSES project to foster the deployment of innovative materials for future commercialisation in the maritime industry. Project partners have recently displayed the full-scale hull section of a large offshore vessel made of composite materials. A news release by RAMSSES project partner Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) states: “There are numerous benefits to composite shipbuilding – chief amongst which is the contribution composites make towards greater maritime efficiency and sustainability. A composite vessel like the one the RAMSSES partners are working towards would weigh up to 40 % less than a steel equivalent.” It adds: “The results of this are a considerable reduction in both fuel consumption and emissions.” Despite such advantages, due to a lack of approved guidelines, “regulations covering composite shipbuilding only cover vessels up to 500 tonnes – approximately 25 metres in length,” as noted in the same news release. “RAMSSES aims to address this by scaling up the composite technology and capacity to design, produce and market composite vessels up to 85 metres long in full compliance with Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and class regulations by validating the production process of large composite structures with economic improvement and key performance indicators for fire-resistance, impact resistance and structural robustness.” SOLAS, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, is a maritime treaty that concerns the safety of merchant ships.

Sustainability and versatility

In the same news release, Marcel Elenbaas from DSNS highlights the impact of RAMSSES on the future of shipping. “Sustainability is a major focus in industry right now and shipbuilding is no exception. The use of composites for larger ships has significant consequences for the entire design of the ship.” He adds that such vessels need smaller engines “which means more space for additional systems, making for a more versatile platform. And of course, composites require considerably less maintenance than a steel vessel. With RAMSSES we have the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness and viability of large-scale composite shipbuilding.”

Demonstrator cases

Called the Custom Made Hull for Offshore Vessel, the recently unveiled solution is one of 13 demonstrator cases developed under RAMSSES that cover the entire maritime supply chain (components, equipment, integration in complex products, repair). These demos include modular lightweight systems, the application of high-performance steel in load-carrying hull structures, the integration of composite materials in various structures and solutions for global repair. The RAMSSES (Realisation and Demonstration of Advanced Material Solutions for Sustainable and Efficient Ships) project will run until May 2021. For more information, please see: RAMSSES project website

Keywords

RAMSSES, shipbuilding, composite material, maritime, hull

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