Classification society ClassNK and Nakashima Propeller have successfully installed a carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) propeller on the main propulsion system of a merchant vessel.
The CFRP propeller was manufactured by Nakashima with support from ClassNK. It was installed on the Taiko Maru, a domestic 499 GT chemical tanker of Sowa Kaiun YK of the Marugame-based Koa industry company, in May 2014.
The CFRP provides the same strength of aluminum-bronze composite materials used in conventional propellers along with its ultra-lightweight composition.
Capable of achieving greater efficiency in maritime operations, the propeller’s sturdy and thin blades feature an increased diameter, similar to the wings of a Boeing 787 aircraft.
It provides better fuel economy and greater efficiency in operations as it only requires 9% less horsepower to operate than the conventional one.
The decision of Sowa Kaiun YK to install CFRP propeller technology at Taiko Maru was a result of the successful performance of previously installed CFRP propellers in its side thrusters in September 2012.
Nippon Foundation and the Japan Ship Machinery & Equipment Association (JSMEA) supported the research and development of the use of CFRP propellers for merchant vessels from 2007 to 2011.
From 2012 onwards, this continued as a joint research project and was carried out by Nakashima, the University of Tokyo School of Engineering, Japan’s National Maritime Research Institute (NMRI), NYK Line, MTI, Imabari Shipbuilding and ClassNK.