European shipbuilding group Damen has unveiled a section of an ocean-going hull made by composites, potentially leading to ships that are 40% lighter than today’s steel versions.
The hull section, built at Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, will now go for testing.
In a release, Damen claimed the revolutionary new composite ship design can offer a reduction in global warming potential, aerosol formation potential, eutrophication potential, acidification potential and fuel consumption by up to 25%.
Current regulations only allow for composite vessels of up to 500 tonnnes or 25 m in length.
Damen and its partners aim to address this by scaling up the composite technology and capacity to design, produce and market composite vessels up to 85 m 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.
Classification society Bureau Veritas is involved in the project and funding has come from the European Union.
“The work we are doing here is important for the future of shipping. Sustainability is a major focus in industry right now and shipbuilding is no exception,” said Marcel Elenbaas, a senior engineer at DSNS. “The use of composites for larger ships has significant consequences for the entire design of the ship. If it is lighter, a vessel uses less fuel and produces lower emissions. The vessel also requires 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.”