First CFRP propeller installation on merchant vessel

01 Sep 2014
The 'Taiko Mau' has ‘the world’s first’ carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) propeller on its main propulsion system

The 'Taiko Mau' has ‘the world’s first’ carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) propeller on its main propulsion system

International classification society, ClassNK and Nakashima Propeller say they have installed ‘the world’s first’ carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) propeller on the main propulsion system of a merchant vessel.

The CFRP propeller installed on the Taiko Mau, a domestic 499gt chemical tanker, was developed by Nakashima Propeller with support from ClassNK, which granted approval for its design and manufacture, as well as providing research and funding support for the project as part of the ClassNK Joint R&D for Industry Program.

Despite its ultra-lightweight composition, ClassNK said that CFRP exhibits the same, if not superior strength, to the aluminium-bronze composite materials used in conventional propellers. Due to the light weight of the propeller, however, propeller shafts can be manufactured with smaller diameters, contributing to a significant reduction in weight and fuel costs.

The Taiko Maru had already previously installed CFRP propellers in its side thrusters in September 2012. Based on their successful performance, the vessel’s owner, Sowa Kaiun YK, made the decision to extend use of the CFRP propeller technology to its main propulsion system.

During sea trials the CFRP required 9% less horsepower to operate compared to conventional aluminium-bronze propellers, and expansion of their use on merchant vessels is expected to contribute to better fuel economy and greater efficiency in operations.

Research and development on the use CFRP propellers for merchant vessels in Japan was supported by the Nippon Foundation and the Japan Ship Machinery & Equipment Association (JSMEA) from 2007 to 2011.

Research continued in 2012 as a joint research project carried out by Nakashima Propeller, the University of Tokyo School of Engineering, Japan’s National Maritime Research Institute (NMRI), NYK Line, MTI, Imabari Shipbuilding and ClassNK.

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