ClassNK and Nakashima Propellers have announced the world’s first installation of a carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) propeller on the main propulsion system of a merchant vessel.
The CFRP propeller was installed on the Taiko Maru, a domestic 499 GT chemical tanker in May of this year. The carbon fibre propeller installed on the vessel were developed and produced by Nakashima Propellers with support from ClassNK, which granted approval for the design and manufacturing process, as well as provided research and funding support for the project.
Despite its ultra-lightweight composition, CFRP exhibits the same, if not superior strength to the aluminium-bronze composite materials used in conventional propellers.
The sturdy yet thin blades of the CFRP has been designed with an increased diameter similar to the wings of a Boeing 787 aircraft which should allow the propellers to achieve even greater efficiency and the potential for further performance improvements continues to be explored via further research and development.
During sea trials the new propellors required 9% less horsepower to operate compared to conventional aluminium-bronze versions, further expansion of their use on merchant vessels is expected to contribute to better fuel economy and greater operating efficiency.