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Prodrive has recently constructed a number of large crude-oil filters for use on an offshore platform, replacing steel with composites, and the company is now exploring other potential offshore applications to complement its existing expertise in motorsport.
“Composites are still unfamiliar materials in many industries, but we’ve found that their blend of strength and light weight, combined with our design and manufacturing expertise, provides some very attractive solutions to the many challenges of operating offshore,” explains Ian Handscombe, composites manager for Prodrive. “We’re supporting customers throughout the entire process of component design, material specification, manufacture and through to successful installation. In some cases, we have even developed quality standards and test procedures to help clients manage this new material throughout its life.”
Achieving light weight does not compromise strength, says Handscombe: “As well as being intrinsically very light, composites allow you to vary the section and shape so the stiffness can be designed in precisely where it is needed. Our composite filters are a lot more durable than the steel originals and have excellent resistance to fatigue under vibration. Their abrasion-resistance is also better, extending the wear life of the filters particularly where they process an abrasive slurry.”
Prodrive’s Handscombe is expecting increasing interest in composites for offshore applications where the material’s strength, durability and light weight can drive improvements in cost and performance. “As the offshore sector becomes more familiar with the properties of the materials, we expect many new applications and some innovative solutions to arise,” he concludes.
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