Modern lightweight construction increases payloads and save resources in shipbuilding. A joint project is now underway to overcome approval hurdles and pave the way for new technologies.

Challenge: New materials for a boost of efficiency

While lightweight materials are increasingly used in vehicle construction, shipbuilding still stands for steel construction. At least, this applies to commercial ships and cruise ships. At the same time, seagoing vessels are associated with a high consumption of resources and would therefore especially benefit from modern lightweight construction technologies.

The development of modern lightweight technologies for maritime applications has made great strides in recent years. However, the full potential has not yet been reached. The main reasons for this are the lengthy approval procedures of international classification societies. But there are also missing rules that designers can use as a guideline.

Solution: Easier approval through standardization

RAMSSES – Realization and Demonstration of Advanced Material Solutions for Sustainable and Efficient Ships – is an EU-funded project that focuses on the recognition and increased use of advanced materials in the European maritime industry. The project started in 2017 and is expected to be completed by 2021.

The focus is on 13 so-called demonstrators, with which the market-oriented application of innovative materials in shipbuilding is to be demonstrated. The Hamburg based Center for Maritime Technologies (CMT) primarily focuses on the technical project management and takes an active role in the development and testing of the demonstrators.

In addition, the CMT is in direct dialogue with maritime classification societies and draws up proposals for a significant simplification of the approval procedures, which are currently based primarily on the use of steel construction techniques. The focus is on the collection of relevant data and the establishment of standardized test procedures for the use of alternative building materials in the maritime sector.

Potential: Lightweight construction by combining steel and plastics

The demonstrators developed as part of the RAMSSES project cover a broad field and demonstrate which innovative solutions can characterize the shipbuilding of tomorrow.

One part of the project, for example, deals with modular lightweight components that enable heavy-duty interior walls and superstructures made of lightweight materials. Examples of this are standardized deck systems for RoRo ships and modular cabins for cruise ships. Other project participants deal with the production of propeller blades using additive manufacturing processes (3D printing). Other projects include lightweight rudder fins and hull sections.

Additional projects focus on the targeted use of composite materials, such as the combination of aluminum with non-metallic materials.

RAMSSES also deals with suitable production and assembly processes and the assessment of the technical performance, cost efficiency and environmental impact of the solutions developed. The individual demonstrators are manufactured under practical conditions and tested on land or on board.

in Numbers

ships on the oceans
of global commercial traffic
of global CO2 emissions

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