The Taiko Maru, a 499 GT chemical tanker owned by Sowa Kaiun YK, recently became the first merchant vessel to have a CFRP propeller installed on its main propulsion system. The Taiko Maru already had CFRP propellers installed in its side thrusters in September 2012, and based on their successful performance, Sowa Kaiun YK decided to extend use of CFRP propellers to its main propulsion system.

During sea trials, the propeller required nine percent less horsepower to operate compared to conventional aluminum-bronze propellers. Rigorous fatigue testing and material testing assessed its basic mechanical properties and static load testing on full-scale propeller blades determined the propeller’s adaptability for marine use.

The CFRP propeller exhibited the same, if not superior, strength to the aluminum-bronze composite materials used in conventional propellers. The blades of the propeller have been designed with a diameter similar to the wings of a Boeing 787 aircraft.

The propeller was developed and produced by Nakashima Propeller with support from ClassNK, which granted approval for the design and manufacturing process of the propeller, and provided research and funding support for the project as part of the ClassNK Joint R&D for Industry Program.