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Sustainable Environmentally-friendly Advanced-Composite Zero-Emission Boats

Periodic Reporting for period 5 - SEABOAT (Sustainable Environmentally-friendly Advanced-Composite Zero-Emission Boats)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-08-31

The SEABOAT project generated blue growth in boat manufacturing and ensured that European SMEs are world leaders in the production of advanced composite boat hulls by introducing a novel boat hull manufacturing technology, Composite Powder Epoxy Technology (C-PET). Conceived as a technology for aerospace and renewable energy applications, C-PET is an innovative, high-performing and cost-effective advanced composite manufacturing technology aimed at the marine recreational boating segment. Currently, the majority of marine recreational boats are manufactured using wet layup, vacuum assisted resin transfer and adhesive bonding. These processes release volatile organic compounds and lead to low fibre volume fractions, resulting in an increase in weight of the final boat hull. Therefore, employing C-PET for the manufacture of boat hulls will lower the cost of the hulls, while eliminating volatile organic compounds during production, and in turn leading to a reduction in the hull weight. This in turn enables the battery-powered boats to compete with fuel-powered alternatives by reducing their operational costs by 60% and greenhouse emissions from power generation to zero. C-PET is a highly sustainable technology that delivers a significantly superior environmental performance, while at the same time reducing costs compared to existing methods and delivering benefits along the whole lifecycle. The advances delivered by SEABOAT will thereby accelerate the replacement of diesel and petrol engines with zero carbon emission electric propulsion systems, achieving high impact cost, performance and environmental benefits. The reduced environmental impact will be particularly profound due to elimination of volatile organic compounds from the manufacturing process, as well as elimination of harmful emission including oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, sulphur dioxide and lead.
The overall aim of this high-potential business project was to produce a stronger, lighter, safer boat hull, using an innovative, patented C-PET manufacturing process and demonstrate it within an electrically propelled recreational boat.
A detailed project schedule and risk register were prepared in order to control activities. EireComposites developed a 5-year business plan and commercialisation strategy. Commercialisation options include: licensing, strategic alliances, equity investment. The process includes discussions with investors, including private equity, banks and public funding bodies.
A communication plan was created to enable efficient exploitation and dissemination of the project activities, outcomes and results. This plan identified key project messages and was designed to deliver them to the target audiences using optimum communication tools. In addition to this, a project website was created, along with a promotional video, which was uploaded on the website and YouTube channel. Facebook and linked-in pages were also created. Five collaborative academic publications were produced, which detail innovation delivered through the project. This work has been presented at the SAMPE Europe Conference 2018 in Southampton, U.K and the CIRI Conference in Dublin, Ireland and in two leading composites journals. EireComposites has also attended a number of trade shows, including the Marine Ireland Trade Show 2018 - Our Ocean Wealth – Summit and the Farnborough international Airshow 2018 and the Southampton Boatshow.
The initial research into developing the production process of a yacht hull with the C-PET material has been completed. ÉireComposites has investigated the suitability of C-PET foam as a core material and the thermoformability of same. The possibility of impregnating pre-cut plies on ÉireComposites’ prepreg line and the ability to produce high quality surface finishes using powder coat prepregs analogous to C-PET were also investigated. The suitability of C-PET for the more detailed features of the hull were also assessed. A method of affixing hull sub elements, such as bulkheads, without the use of distinct gluing operations after the main cure was also developed. Initially, this involved producing prismatic sandwich panel t-sections, followed by laying up of model bulkheads. These layups resulted in components that were simpler and theoretically sturdier than contemporary joints.
A full-scale prototype hull-mould was manufactured and tested. A second mould was manufactured which is better suited for volume manufacturing at high-temperature as required by the powder epoxy (C-PET) material. Refinement of the hull design, as well as detailed design for manufacture, has been carried out. A full-scale demonstrator hull has been build and operational trials have been performed. Work has also been undertaken to identify the most suitable market opportunities for the C-PET technology and the first commercial contracts are in place.
The SEABOAT project aimed to deliver Sustainable Environmentally-friendly Advanced-Composite Zero-Emission Boats. This was achieved by the commercialisation of the Composite Powder Epoxy Technology (C-PET) manufacturing process, within the recreational boat manufacturing segment.
Reducing the hull weight will allows for the installation of additional onboard batteries, while enhancing the boat’s range/performance. Allowing, for the first time ever, battery-powered boats to compete with fuel-powered alternatives. C-PET’s potential to reduce operational costs significantly and deliver zero emissions, with tangible benefits along the product’s whole life-cycle were demonstrated and tested.
The C-PET technology was initially be deployed in sailboats. Further activities, carried out as part of the project, identified the most attractive subsequent markets, geographies and buyer segmentation that can be addressed after the initial sailboat developments was proved technically, operational and commercially successful. Beyond 2020, sales resulting from the SEABOAT project are expected to grow rapidly. ÉireComposites will grow market share for its C-PET technology through product innovation and market development. By delivering lighter, more efficient hulls that can be powered using electric motors, it ultimately aims to become a market leader in hull manufacture.
During the project, ÉireComposites has developed an innovative composites manufacturing process, based on processing powder epoxy (C-PET). Demonstrator-level components have been manufactured, which show the potential of the technology to reduce the cost and weight of boat hulls. These components have provided initial verification of the competitive advantages of C-PET, which are detailed as follows:
• Elimination the health hazard of VOCs used with wet layup of composites;
• Reduction in labour required to manufacture hulls by 30% as compared to VARTM or wet lay-up;
• Increase in mechanical properties with relation to VARTM but at lower cost than Prepreg;
• Reduction in the overall weight of the structure by eliminating glue lines and increasing the fiber volume fraction.
Despite challenges due to COVID19, the SEABOAT project has been successfully completed.