GRE – an Alternative to Ships' Metal Pipes

By George Backwell at August 20, 2011 22:23
Filed Under: General

Pipework typically needs to be replaced two or three times during the lifetime of a ship, but arising from recent advances in manufacturing technology there are alternatives to ferrous metal pipework. Dubai-based multinational manufacturers Future Pipe Industries (FPI), who are in the forefront of this developing technology, assert that their GRE (Glass Fibre Reinforced Epoxy) pipes will last the whole lifetime of the ship.

Pipework Safety Issues

Pipes remain unnoticed as they go quietly about their business, which is mainly to convey fluid of some kind (air and gas too) throughout a labyrinth of pipework that invades  almost every space in the ship, and which, according to a jointly authored paper by Standard P&I Mutual Insurance Club and RINA, is a system like no other with such enormous potential to cause fire, pollution, and flooding.

Examining the causes of accidents involving burst and leaking pipes, classification society DNV judged that corrosion was one of the major influencing factors to cause steel pipework failures. Thus GRE composition pipes are not only more durable but they enhance ship safety.

GRE Pipework System Applications

Interestingly, aboard RoRo ferry Tor Ficaria, the pipework of the exhaust gas scrubber unit (retrofitted by Aalborg Industries in 2009, and at that time the largest marine seawater-freshwater scrubber in the world) has been found corroded, probably by combination of dissolved pollutants with the caustic-soda freshwater mix, and instead a complete GRE replacement pipe system to the unit is to be supplied by FPI.

Tor Ficaria & EGCS Scrubber Unit: Courtesy of Aalborg Industries

SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Convention) sets out requirements for fire safety in engine rooms, where for example double-skinned low carbon steel alloy pipes are used to deliver fuel at high pressure (between 600 and 900 bar) to engine combustion chambers; a territory likely out of reach of the GRE constructed pipe.

Nevertheless though, elsewhere in the engine room, large diameter main engine seawater cooling systems, usually mild steel, are particularly prone to corrosion even if galvanised or made up of copper alloys, since the fluid flow is continuously in motion to cause abrasive corrosion and erosion of the pipe interiors. FPI has already extensively replaced corroded steel pipework with GRE in two Swedish icebreakers, and is contracted to replace the seawater cooling system of a third icebreaker, Ymer.

Comments (1) -

Glad to see that composite technology is starting to become more widely accepted.

Greg bladowski |     8/30/2011 3:25:48 PM #

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