Michigan Wheel Partner Installs World’s First Carbon Fiber Propeller for Main Propulsion on a Merchant Vessel
May 2014 - Nakashima Propeller Co., Ltd continues to innovate in the world of marine propulsion, successfully installing the first carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) main propulsion propeller on a merchant vessel. The propeller was installed on the Taiko Maru, a domestic 499 GT chemical tanker owned by Sowa Kaiun YK. The propeller was designed and built by Nakashima Propeller with support from ClassNK classification society of Japan who granted design and manufacturing approval.
The Taiko Maru had previously installed CFRP propellers on its side thrusters in September of 2012. The successful performance of the side thrusters led to the decision to test CFRP main propulsion propellers. The Taiko Maru is the world’s first vessel to use carbon fiber for both its main and auxiliary propulsion systems.
CFRP exhibits a better strength to weight ratio compared to the standard bronze alloys typically used for propeller construction. The reduced weight of the CFRP propeller allows for installation of a smaller propeller shaft, and the reduced weight of the system as a whole has many design, construction, and operational benefits. Installation of the CFRP propeller and composite propeller boss cap fins reduced the Taiko Maru's power required to operate during seatrials by 9% compared to conventional nickel-aluminum-bronze propellers. CFRP propellers have the potential to contribute to better fuel economy and vessel efficiency on many merchant vessels.