Shipbuilding Study: Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) Could Prove Suitable for Replacing Mechanical Fastener
A team of researchers has analyzed the potential of using methyl methacrylate (MMA) to bond together the structural elements of a boat. The research is part of the INTERREG 2Seas Mers Zeeën research program, a European Territorial Cooperation program that covers England, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium (Flanders) with the goal of developing a 2 Seas area that protects natural resources and promotes the green economy.
Although adhesive bonding and lightweight materials have gained a widespread adoption in the automotive and aerospace industries, their adoption in the maritime and shipbuilding industry has lagged behind.
Traditionally, mechanical fasteners are used to connect ship components, which add weight and limit the ability to take advantage of new design approaches that use composite materials. While researchers have explored the possibility of using epoxies to bond together different parts of a boat, the material was deemed too brittle as it can crack over time. MMA does not provide the same strength as epoxy, however, it absorbs more energy, and the research indicated that MMA could prove suitable for replacing mechanical fasteners, resulting in lighter and more efficient designs. “MMA is very flexible and can deform much more than brittle epoxy-based adhesives,” said Mohamed Nasr Saleh, Ph.D., thermoplastic composites lead at the Advanced Materials Research Center at the Technology Innovation Institute (TII) in the United Arab Emirates. Saleh was one of the lead researchers in the study, which also included collaborators from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and Aarhus University in Denmark.
Today, boat designers use mechanical fasteners to connect the superstructure of a ship, which refers to the top body of the vessel, to the rest of the ship. In the long run, the broader use of MMA could pave the way for the wider adoption of composite superstructures, which will enable ship designers to reduce top weight and improve stability. Saleh added, “Using adhesives will help eliminate the weight of those mechanical fasteners.” Early analysis predicts this could reduce weight by 10%, improve fuel efficiency by 1-7%, reduce harmful emissions, and increase ship stability.
Source: Science Direct