Sustainable Composite Ship Construction is Making Progress at Damen

Sustainable Composite Ship Construction is Making Progress at Damen

On July 18, the Realisation and Demonstration of Advanced Material Solutions for Sustainable and Efficient Ships (RAMSSES) project reached a key milestone. On that date, at Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding’s (DSNS) location in Vlissingen-East, the Netherlands, the project’s partners unveiled the recently assembled full scale composite ship’s hull section they have been developing these past three years. This, entitled Custom Made Hull for Offshore Vessel, represents one of thirteen demonstrators that make up the RAMSSES project. The project can now go forward with a series of tests that, it is anticipated, will demonstrate the viability of large composite ships as a sustainable shipping solution.

Composite shipbuilding has a very interesting potential for greater maritime efficiency and sustainability. A composite vessel like the one the RAMSSES partners are working towards would weigh up to 40% less than a steel equivalent, which would allow a considerable reduction in both fuel consumption and emissions. In fact, a composite vessel can offer a reduction in global warming potential, aerosol formation potential, eutrophication potential, acidification potential and fuel consumption by up to 25%. 

However, in the absence of approved guidelines to this day, 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 design, produce and market 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.

An 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 DSNS’ location has demonstrated the possibility to undertake composite construction at a steel yard.

The RAMSSES project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. 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. 

Photo : Damen

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