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SAERTEX, together with Brødrene Aa and two other partners, have won the prestigious JEC Innovation Award 2017 in the ‘Better Living’ category for the tourist ferry ‘Vision of the Fjords’, which is constructed almost completely of carbon.
The tourist excursion vessel, constructed by Brødrene Aa using SAERTEX carbon fibres, is a pioneering achievement in several respects, particularly because large sections of its hull and superstructure are made of carbon. The resulting weight reduction of up to 50 percent makes it possible to use a hybrid drive and this reduces exhaust emissions by over 20 percent. Alongside SAERTEX, the two other project partners – DIAB International AB and Reichhold LLC – also receive the award as co-winners.
SAERTEX explains that its customer, Brødrene Aa, developed a vessel for use on the longest and deepest fjords of Europe with the aim of reconciling the needs of mass tourism without harming the environment. Ninety percent of the CO2 emitted during the lifecycle of a vessel is produced while the vessel is in operation. The companies and engineers involved in designing the ‘Vision of the Fjords’ took precisely this fact into consideration and decided to combine an energy-saving lightweight catamaran design – employing lightweight, long-lasting materials –with the use of environment-friendly drive technology. Where steel and aluminum structural components were previously utilised, they are now replaced by carbon materials. Multiaxial carbon-Fibre fabrics manufactured by SAERTEX provided the basic materials for the project. Fibre orientation and the number of layers were adapted to match the requirements for each component. Unidirectional, biaxial, triaxial, and quadraxial technical fabrics were used in the construction of the ‘Vision of the Fjords’, depending on the mechanical demands.
SAERTEX says the technical highlight and greatest challenge during the course of this project was the production of the carbon elements for the hull.
“The parts measuring 41 meters long and 5 meters high were impregnated with a special resin using the vacuum infusion process. To achieve this, we had to maintain the permeability of the non-crimp-fabric in the mould as high as possible. So the SAERTEX development team worked in the laboratory to optimise the flow characteristics of the combination of carbon-Fibre non-crimp fabrics and the vinyl ester resin. In this end, this development work as well as decades of know-how gained by the staff at Brødrene Aa brought the project to a successful conclusion,” comments Dietmar Möcke, member of the Global Executive Board and Chief Technology Officer at SAERTEX.
The ‘Vision of the Fjords’ has been in service since July 2016 on the 32-kilometer stretch between the ports of Flåm and Gudvangenund. Some 700 trips are planned a year. Along the most scenic sections, the ‘Vision of the Fjords’ navigates almost silently through the fjords at 10 knots on electric-only drive, allowing tourists to enjoy the lasting and impressive beauty of nature. The Fjords AS shipping company has already commissioned the construction of more ferries of the same design.
The ‘Vision of the Fjords’ already received the prestigious Norwegian ‘Ship of the Year 2016’ award at SMM, the leading international trade fair for the maritime industry, in Hamburg in September 2016.
“We are very proud and delighted to receive this award. For our company it both confirms our competencies and motivates us to continue our trend-setting developments in cooperation with our customers to preserve natural resources in our world. Here, carbon is the material of the future. It will become the principal material for all applications in the transportation sector,” comments Christoph Geyer, member of the Global Executive Board and Chief Sales Officer at SAERTEX.
SAERTEX also backed the winner of this year’s JEC Innovation Award in the ‘Automotive Structural’ category by supplying lightweight materials as project partner. Here, SAERTEX supplied the required multiaxial non-crimp fabrics through the intermediary of Forward Engineering in Munich. The fabrics were used to develop a structural automotive component based on the thermoplastic resin transfer moulding process (T-RTM).
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