LiteCab™ Lightweight Composite Cruise Ship Cabins
The cruise industry is growing at a rate of ~11% per annum and as vessels increase in size to provide more luxurious and engaging experiences for their passengers, vessel stability and vessel efficiency become ever more important drivers in their design.
Modern cruise ships can accommodate up to 4,000 passengers, along with thousands of staff. A typical vessel will incorporate 3,000 or more cabins which are constructed of steel and mineral wool in order to satisfy IMO/SOLAS fire regulation and provide enough structural integrity to perform adequately as a free-standing cabin assembly.
The challenge was to halve the weight of a typical cabin and yet retain all of its other characteristics whilst satisfying all of the prescriptive regulations governing FST (fire, smoke, toxicity) and acoustic performance.
These were seen as the possible benefits of a composite cabin:
- Reduction in topsides weight
- Improved stability
- Increased payload of vessel = more cabins
- Improved fuel efficiency = lower emissions
- Reduced transportation costs, easier handling
- More sustainable / less embodied energy
- Lower carbon footprint
- Easier maintenance
- Quicker repairs
PE Composites formed a project consortium with Carnival, the World’s largest cruise company, and others to apply for funding from the UK government. A grant was awarded by Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency. The consortium comprised:
- PE Composites Limited – Lead Partner & composites manufacturer
- Carnival Corporation – Owner and operator of ~100 cruise ships
- Gurit (UK) Limited – Composites structural engineering, materials & components manufacturer
- University of Southampton – Materials search & characterisation and also acoustics testing and analysis (ISVR)
- Trimline Limited – Marine interior design & fit-out contractor
- Lloyd’s Register EMEA – Certification body
- Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) – Advisory role providing guidance on meeting Flag and regulatory requirements
After undertaking an extensive programme covering research, design, structural engineering and testing, which included, combustibility, fire, smoke, toxicity, mechanical and acoustic performance, two prototype cabins were produced. One of which was displayed at SMM Marine Exhibition in Hamburg in 2016. Interest was high and a second project was launched, again co-funded by Innovate UK, with just Carnival, PE Composites and Trimline as partners. The aim of this project was to re-visit the materials technology used for thee prototype cabins in order to reduce costs and speed up production times.
The first project realised:
- A significantly lighter cabin system
- Structurally equal to the present steel system
- More resistant to dents and scrapes
- Easier and faster repairs – able to restore the original cabin finish in the short windows of time available
- Air tight construction saves significant air conditioning energy
- Expected to be cost competitive when produced in quantity
- Able to customise the acoustic performance of the cabin
- Providing B15 fire barrier performance
- Capable of being type approved with further development
- Able to be supplied with seamless walls and ceiling resulting in a far more up-market appearance
The second project, expected to end in Q1 of 2019, will result in a market ready, fully certified and Lloyd’s Type-Approved new build cabin system, and flat pack retro-fit panel system.
These cabins are considered to be suitable for other sectors including Inland Waterway Vessels and military vessels where light weight helps improve performance, and the ability to easily customise the panel system could be an interesting way to improve the protection of personnel on-board.
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PE Composites and partners have developed a cabin that is approximately half the weight of the majority of current cabins whilst meeting the prescriptive requirements of the IMO FTP Code, making them suitable foe use on-board SOLAS vessels.
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Operations Manager | Marine | Renewable | Machining, milling and turning