Chemical tanker reaps fuel savings with plastic-based main propeller

Classification society ClassNK and Nakashima Propeller Co have installed a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) propeller on the main propulsion system of a chemical tanker to reap benefits of fuel savings.

The CFRP propeller was installed on the Taiko Maru, a domestic 499 gross tonnes chemical tanker owned by Sowa Kaiun YK in May this year.

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

ClassNK noted that despite its ultra-lightweight composition, the CFRP exhibits the same, if not superior strength, to the aluminum-bronze composite materials used in conventional propellers.

Propeller shafts can also be manufactured with smaller diameters due to the light weight feature, contributing to significant reduction in weight and fuel costs.

The sturdy yet thin blades of the CFRP designed by Nakashima Propeller have been designed with an increased diameter similar to the wings of a Boeing 787 aircraft. This allows CFRP propellers to achieve even greater efficiency when employed for maritime use and the potential for further performance improvements continues to be explored via testing model tank testing.

The chemical tanker Taiko Maru had already previously installed CFRP propellers in its side thrusters in September 2012. Sowa Kaiun YK made the decision to expand the use of the CFRP propeller, making the vessel the first in the world to use a CFRP for its main propulsion system.

Posted 04 September 2014

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Lee Hong Liang

Asia Correspondent

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