Seoul - A steel/polyurethane structural composite -- the sandwich plate system -- will start to be used for the first time in new ship construction, following a 10 Nov announcement that South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co Ltd (DSME) and Intelligent Engineering (IE) are setting up a joint venture agreement for the use of SPS technology in shipbuilding.
Although SPS technology - in the form of an overlay - has become widely used in maritime repair since it was first developed in the mid-1990s by IE, this is the first major agreement on its use in mainstream shipbuilding, although the first uses will be in components such as decks, rather than in the basic ship's structure.
"SPS is an important new materials technology that has the capability to transform the industries in which it is applied. We have already seen this in ship repair and we are beginning to see it in civil engineering. Together with our partner DSME, we will now be able to bring the change to shipbuilding," said Michael Kennedy, ceo of IE, in a 10 Nov company statement.
In SPS the solid polyurethane elastomer core binds two steel plates together, forming a composite, patented by IE, which is "ideally suited to maritime applications," said IE 's statement. As IE points out, compared to stiffened steel, which is labour intensive in use and susceptible to fatigue and corrosion, SPS "requires 40 percent less labour, significantly reduces build complexity and costs, and provides superior life cycle performance." IE quotes UK shipping certification association Lloyd's Register: "SPS is superior in every practical way to conventional stiffened steel plate."
DSME sees the agreement as "an exciting new opportunity for us," commented Young-Youl Koh, DSME's chief strategy officer. "Our continuing work programme with IE promises major improvements that should benefit the whole shipbuilding industry. The potential value to our customers is enormous."
DSME has been working with IE for a year to develop and test new applications, starting with design and construction of a liftable car deck such as would be used on a car carrier.
Work will now commence on an extensive programme that includes lightweight car decks, accommodation blocks, tank tops and hatch covers, with the first hatch cover already built.
Lloyd's Register will be closely involved in the programme and will incorporate the results in an update of its provisional rules for SPS.
The venture will also be closely supported by BASF, which supplies the polyurethane elastomer and has been involved throughout the development of the SPS Technology. "We see great potential in this technology and the new joint venture will have the full support of BASF in Asia and around the world," commented Chew Eng Soo, group vice-president of BASF Polyurethanes Asia Pacific, in IE's announcement.
Under IE/DSME's agreement, negotiated with the aid of shipbroker Cass Maritime Ltd, a new company will be formed, in which DSME will be a significant shareholder. The company will develop and licence SPS technology for shipbuilding and offshore applications.
PIC: Young-Youl Koh of DSME (l) with IE's Michael Kennedy at the signing ceremony