In a development that could cut the weight of ships by up to 40%, a Damen shipyard led team in the Netherlands has built a full scale hull section of an ocean-going vessel from lightweight composite.
The Realisation and Demonstration of Advanced Material Solutions for Sustainable and Efficient Ships (RAMSSES) project unveiled on July 18 the recently assembled full scale composite ship’s hull section they have been developing over the past three years, a Damen release said.
The Custom Made Hull for Offshore Vessel (CMHOV), represents one of thirteen demonstrators that will make up the RAMSSES project. The project can now go forward with a series of tests that will demonstrate the viability of large composite ships.
A composite-made vessel could weigh up to 40% less than a steel equivalent. The results of this are a considerable reduction in both fuel consumption and emissions. A composite vessel can offer a reduction in global warming potential, aerosol formation potential, and acidification potential besides fuel consumption by up to 25%.
Currently however, in the absence of approved guidelines, regulations covering composite shipbuilding only cover vessels up to 500 tonnes – approximately 25 metres in length. RAMSSES aims to address this by scaling up the composite technology and capacity to produce 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.
This work section of the project is led by Damen Shipyards Gorinchem, which has developed the baseline design. Engineering has been performed by Airborne UK and InfraCore Company, who have brought their expertise in composites to the project. Evonik has developed the resin to infuse the composites.
The approval process has been developed in close cooperation with Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), Netherlands Maritime Technology Foundation and Bureau Veritas. A Hazld (hazard identification) test has already been performed by RISE and Bureau Veritas to address all fire risks. The fire performance criteria defined will be tested and validated at the facilities of RISE.
The project work has also pioneered the capability to infuse thick laminates up to six metres in height. Furthermore, performing the assembly at a Damen location has demonstrated the possibility to undertake composite construction at a steel yard.
Said Marcel Elenbaas, senior engineer at Research & Technology Support Damen. “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. With RAMSSES we have the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness and viability of large-scale composite shipbuilding.”
The RAMSSES project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 723246. Other demonstrators in the RAMSSES project include innovative components and modular lightweight systems, maritime equipment, the application of high performance steels in load carrying hull structures, the integration of composite materials in various structures, as well as solutions for global repair.