Lightweight Materials Used in Cruise Liners

The cruise line industry has recorded tremendous growth at the rate of 7% each year and serves more than 21 million passengers with a total worldwide revenue figure over $37 billion and shows no signs of decline.

Broadway Pier, San Diego

Figure 1. Broadway Pier, San Diego

This sustained growth implies that shipbuilding has become a key priority for the cruise sector. In 2014, six new ships were added and more 17 are anticipated to come on-line in the coming years. Hence it is expected that passenger capacity will increase by 40,000 spaces, adding an additional $3.4billion in revenue in the process.

Reducing Marine’s Carbon Footprint

With a constant increase in the number of cruise liners, the need to find novel and better ways of reducing the carbon footprint is documented. The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in 2011 introduced innovative technical and operational measures with the aim of bringing down their carbon dioxide outputs by between 45 and 50 million tonnes a year by the year 2020.

The marine industry, as per the IMO produces around 2.7% of global man made CO2 emissions, which is probably the same as aviation.

This measure along with the need for all ships to execute an energy efficient management plan, which includes monitoring the amount of fuel consumed forms a key part of the marine industries strategy for bringing down their environmental impact.

All ships constructed from the year 2013 are required to satisfy specific energy requirements (grams of CO2 per tonne-mile)

Efficiency Meets Performance In Cruise Liners

Modern cruise liners use 0.34t of fuel for each mile and hence fuel consumption is an important way of satisfying the industry’s need for efficiency without a reduction in performance.

Engineers are seeking methods to bring down fuel consumption in cruise liners. Ship hulls are coated with silicon and trials are being done if that reduces its friction while moving in water. Lightweight materials are being utilized or considered.

Advanced lightweight materials such as aluminium, fibre-reinforced plastics and carbon fibre which are being used in the aerospace industry to reduce the mass of aircraft and aircraft interiors and these are being considered in the pursuit of efficiency in the marine sector.

Marine architects have always prioritized bringing down the center of gravity by reducing weight above the water line.

Lightweight Composite Materials Suit the Marine Environment

Lightweight materials have always helped in bringing down fuel consumption and emissions and are suitable for the corrosive and challenging marine environment. Sweden has a history of using lightweight FRP in naval vessels and a recent project termed as LASSi looked at the impact of lightweight materials in ship structures.

Lightweight Cruise Ship Materials

Figure 2. Lightweight Cruise Ship Materials

With a payback time between five to six years and a clear demonstration of environmental benefits the research observed the impact of lightweight materials in the upper decks of a cruise vessel.

The research observed the use of FRP materials in the five upper decks of a ship and proved that the weight saved by the use of lightweight materials would have allowed another half deck of cabins to be installed without a reduction in the features or performance of the ship.

Challenging Suppliers to Develop New Materials for Cruise Liners

It is a challenge to choose materials that help in lessening a ship’s mass but also complies with the strict fire regulations of the industry.

The latest design and construction of P&O’s cruise liner, Britannia, is a case to be considered. Designers working on the ship found that there was a lack of IMO-certified materials restrictive in achieving the desired finish suggesting the rigorous maritime tests were one reason suppliers were reluctant to develop new materials.

In order to combat this, Richmond International, responsible for interior design components closely worked with a small number of IMO-certified suppliers who were willing to develop special finishes specifically for the ship.

IMO-Certified Lightweight Materials for Cruise Liners

The quest for suppliers who have compliant ready-made materials and are willing to study and develop solutions to the quality needed in the cruise industry, may be a challenge, however it can be attained.

Readily available products like the TRB Lightweight Structures’ IMO-approved Cellite™ 220 panels have offered a light-weight solution to the marine sector for so many years now. These panels find use in building walls, floors, gangways, galleys and so much more.

Sunseeker Predator 108

Figure 3. Sunseeker Predator 108

These materials have been used in several bespoke projects such as the interior for Sunseekers’ Predator 108 and are being considered for the cruise liner interiors, specifically in the upper deck.

The marine industry helps to bridge the customer and compliance requirements and it is sure that the desire of the marine industry to embrace lightweight materials will have a positive long term impact and as cruise vessels seek ways to reduce their environmental impact, the industry will prepare itself for its next wave of customers.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by TRB Lightweight Structures.

For more information on this source, please visit TRB Lightweight Structures.

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