Ship Propeller Shows Promise | Composites Manufacturing Magazine

Military and civilian markets generally have different requirements when they commission products made from composite materials. But the French consortium FABHELI had to meet the needs of both groups when producing a 2.9-foot, CFRP propeller prototype. It succeeded in developing a propeller that has the potential to decrease ships energy consumption and maintenance costs, improve their hydrodynamic efficiency and cut their acoustic emissions. Plus, the propellers could be manufactured at a price that would appeal to both military and civilian shipbuilders.

FABHELI comes from fabriqué, short for fabricated, and heli, the French word for propeller. Loiretech, a designer and manufacturer of composite tooling, leads the consortium. Its partners include NAVAL Group, a designer/builder of naval submarines and surface ships, and Méca, which makes innovative composite structures. Subcontractors included Bureau Veritas, a provider of testing, inspection and certification services, and the AML shipyard, which supplied the test vessel for the new propeller.

In this two-year project, the consortium demonstrated several advantages of composite propellers over metallic ones. One was fuel savings, which is important both to military customers and to civilian markets. Fishermen, for example, spend 80 percent of the money they make on each trip for fuel.

To develop an efficient design, the consortium used adaptive profile computing to calculate and then test, using simulations, the effects of th....

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