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Engineering, production and life‐cycle management for the complete construction of large‐length FIBRE‐based SHIPs

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FIBRESHIP (Engineering, production and life‐cycle management for the complete construction of large‐length FIBRE‐based SHIPs)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

FIBRESHIP addresses the feasibility of using Fibre-Reinforced Polymers (FRP) technology in vessels larger than 500GT and the lack of a regulatory framework. FRP materials started to be used in boat hull building in the 1930s as a manufacturing experiment using fibreglass fabric and polyester resin laid in a foam mould. Nowadays most of the leisure crafts, sailing yachts, ferries, patrol and rescue vessels below 50 meters length are built in FRP materials due to its benefits regarding weight reduction maintaining enough structural resistance. FRP application has revolutionized entire industries such as aerospace or automotive. However, FRP technology for large-length vessels has not been totally spread to the entire maritime industry due to the regulatory framework and the lack of studies on its feasibility.
After a preliminary analysis of the current shipping market and other engineering fields significant for FIBRESHIP (such as numerical modelling, ship design, shipbuilding, inspection, maintenance and standardization procedures), FRP technology for large vessels is a market niche ready to be explored and exploited for the European stakeholders. This project encourages new high-level technological innovations, positioning the consortium at the forefront of their fields of specialization and empowering their business opportunities in the maritime sector. Furthermore, FRP in large-length ships will imply a significant structural weight reduction (up to 70%) and several benefits (bunkering saving, corrosion immunity, payload cargo capacity increasing, GHG emissions reduction among others).
The main objective of FIBRESHIP is to generate a new market and evolve the regulatory framework to enable large-length ships in FRP and its massive application in shipbuilding, by means of the following actions:
- Engagement of maritime stakeholders and regulatory bodies.
- Identification of FRP materials and designing of 3 vessel types (Containership, ROPAX and FRV) supported on new validated FRP numerical tools.
- Innovative monitoring methodologies development and guidelines elaboration on materials selection, innovative design procedures and production methodologies.
- Implementation of methodologies in a demonstrator of a full-scale ship block.
- Life-cycle cost-benefits analysis considering FRP materials in large-length ships and a global business plan for the actors in the value chain (engineering, material production, shipbuilding and operation).
As the main conclusion, FIBRESHIP is a reality. Despite there are still technical details to be solved and regulatory challenges to be overcome, according to the obtained results, it can be concluded that it is feasible having large-length ships over 500GT in composites in the near future as soon as the market requires them.
FIBRESHIP project ended as expected, achieving all the foreseen results as well as other not foreseen of high impact. The main outcomes are summarized as follows:
• Evaluation of trends, competition, statutory framework, barriers, potential benefits and forecasts for the usability of FRP materials on large-length vessels.
• Main results: specification for the three vessels of the project, SWOT analysis for stakeholders, adoption roadmap according to end-users’ satisfaction and market acceptance, a cost-benefit analysis tool and a global business plan.
• Identification of new composite materials and joining solutions for their use in large‐length ships.
• Characterization of selected materials and bonding techniques through small-scale tests (mechanical, fatigue, fire & environmental status).
• FRP methodology selection based on mechanical properties, fire performance, easy manufacturing and economic impact.
• Study of joining techniques behaviour by numerical modelling and testing.
• Guidance notes considering the categorization of selected materials and joints.
• Identification of gaps of current standards relevant to the use of FRP in the marine sector.
• Structural design of the three-targeted vessels (containership, ROPAX and FRV) in composites and fire and hydrodynamic simulations, achieving a structural weight reduction of up to 70%.
• Definition of performance criteria and design recommendations as basis of future standards:
Structural and fire performance criteria. Fatigue assessment methodology.
Project guidance notes for the design of vessels greater than 500GT in composites.
• Cost-efficient production methodologies and modular construction.
• FRP adaptation roadmap for shipyards of any size to build large-length vessels in composites.
• Guidance notes considering new production strategies and techniques.
• Analysis of new inspection procedures and SHM strategy definition.
• Research on waste management and current recycling status.
• Decision-making support tool on LCA considering costs, risk and environmental impact.
• Software suite (CAE/FEA) consisting of different coupled numerical models able to simulate the structural behavior of FRP vessels with a friendly graphical user interface.
• Validation of all developed numerical models by standard benchmarks and experimental data.
• Vast number of different types of large-scale tests to feed the other tasks with data for validation of proposed models, solutions and methodologies.
• Full-scale demonstration by means of a ship-block (11m x 11m x 8.6m 20ton) of the FRV considering the developed design, production techniques and methodologies.
In FIBRESHIP, several progresses beyond the state of the art of composite materials in ship design and shipbuilding of large-length vessels have been achieved. The current state of the art regarding the use of FRP in shipbuilding is obvious, limiting the use of these materials for vessels below 500GT as it is stated in IMO SOLAS, which represents an unsurpassed constriction to the development of this technology in the maritime sector.
This limitation of FRP use is mainly due to structural and fire safety aspects, blocking this technology and avoiding the spreading of composite materials as building material in maritime industry. According to the obtained results, FIBRESHIP Consortium expects to change this fact proposing innovations and studies on composite materials applications, laying the foundations to develop new guidelines and engineering methodologies for this sort of vessels and opening an interesting market for the European stakeholders.
FIBRESHIP has increased the competitiveness of the involved partners and can be an excellent milestone of vessel efficiency improvement for the coming years in which the decarbonizing of waterborne transport by 2050 is one of the main objectives of the Green Deal of the European Union.
FIBRESHIP project logo
FIBRESHIP demonstrator (composite fishing research vessel block)
FIBRESHIP potential benefits
FIBRESHIP project thematic areas