The world’s first carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) is now installed on the main propulsion system of a merchant vessel thanks to the initiatives of leading classification society ClassNK and Nakashima Propeller.
CFRP is designed with ultra-lightweight composition but still exhibits the same, if not super strength, as that of the aluminum-bronze composite materials used in conventional propellers. With this lightweight advancement, propeller shafts can be manufactured with smaller diameters and have significantly reduced weight and fuel costs.
Moreover, the propeller is designed with an increased diameter similar to the wings of a Boeing 787 aircraft that allows greater efficiency when employed for maritime use and the potential for further performance improvements.
The CFRP propeller was installed on the Taiko Maru, a domestic 499 GT chemical tanker owned by Sowa Kaiun YK by Marugame-based Koa industry in May 2014. Development and production was spearheaded by Nakashima Propeller with design, manufacturing process approval and funding by ClassNK. Research and development was also supported by the Nippon Foundation and Japan Ship Machinery & Equipment Association.
With continuous advancements in technology, maritime and offshore training is not falling behind in coming up with innovations for the betterment of the industry’s manpower.