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Connemara-based company wins funding for novel solution to facilitate faster, cleaner, cheaper shipping.

GALWAY, June 2023 – Today, ÉireComposites announced its partnership with University of Galway for the newly-funded FASTSHIP project. The project aims to make the shipping industry greener, by using lightweight composite materials to reduce fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and costs.

As global trade booms, shipping continues to be the method of choice for goods transportation. This industry accounts for approximately 3.1% of global CO2 emissions today, which is predicted to rise by anything from 50% to 250% by 2050 without mitigation. There is an urgent need to reduce these figures, and FASTSHIP will play a significant role in achieving this.

Over the course of 24 months, the project will focus on manufacturing process optimisation for the volume production of composite components that can reduce drag on ships thereby cutting fuel usage. ÉireComposites will lead development and manufacturing, while University of Galway takes charge of analysis and testing. These two parties have a long, impressive history of collaboration, ensuring there is a strong partnership at the heart of this vital work.

The following strategic objectives will feed into achieving the overall goal of the project:

  • Optimise the manufacturing process to increase its efficiency and strength, using the BladeComp software developed by UGalway.
  • Validate the initial redesign by testing a demonstrator component at the large structure’s laboratory at UGalway.
  • Optimise the manufacturing process for ensuring large volume production at reduced costs.
  • Fabricate and test the full-scale component to validate the optimised redesign and verify Finite Element models.
  • Explore commercial opportunities and new markets within Ireland and Europe to expand ÉireComposites’ customer base.

The Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) and the Marine Institute are providing almost €600,000 of funding to the project, under the SEAI National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) Funding Programme 2022. This programme invests in innovative energy RD&D projects which contribute to Ireland’s transition to a clean and secure energy future.

Kerrie Sheehan, Head of Department, Research & Technology, SEAI said:

Maritime transport plays an essential role in Ireland as an island nation and SEAI recognises the need to invest in research that will contribute to achieving emissions reductions in this sector and our 2030 overall targets. SEAI is delighted to co-fund this innovative and ambitious project with the Marine Institute which aims to reduce energy use in shipping.”

Veronica Cunningham, Research Funding Office Manager, Marine Institute said:

The Irish maritime sector, in line with the sector across Europe is seeking ways to decarbonise operations, reduce greenhouse gases emissions, and increase the use of low-carbon and renewable fuels to replace fossil fuels for shipping. The FASTSHIP project will develop a solution that can be retrofitted to existing vessels or designed into new ships, with a significant reduction in fuel consumption, and consequently decreasing vessel carbon emissions and shipping costs. The Institute is pleased to support this project awarded under the SEAI RD&D Programme.”

About ÉireComposites: Established in 1998, ÉireComposites is an innovative design, manufacturing, and testing company, involved in lightweight, high-performance, fibre-reinforced composite materials, with an international blue-chip customer base of over 70 companies in aerospace, renewable energy, marine, and automotive sectors.

As a leader in designing and manufacturing composite materials ÉireComposites have extensive experience, state-of-the-art facilities and advanced design capabilities as a one stop shop for composites process and product development. The company is based in Inverin, Galway, Ireland with a 6000m² fully accredited facility and employs over 60 people.

About University of Galway: First founded in 1845, University of Galway is a globally focused research-led university. The institution’s researchers are delivering research and innovations in areas such as climate action, clean energy, ocean, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable bioeconomy, and One Health.

The Sustainable & Resilient Structures Research Group from Construct Innovate and the SFI MaREI Research Centre is based in the School of Engineering, and operates a Large Structures Testing Laboratory, and staff have a depth of knowledge relating to the design and testing of composite structures.

About SEAI: SEAI is Ireland’s national energy authority investing in, and delivering, appropriate, effective and sustainable solutions to help Ireland’s transition to a clean energy future. We work with Government, homeowners, businesses and communities to achieve this, through expertise, funding, educational programmes, policy advice, research and the development of new technologies. SEAI is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications. 

SEAI catalyses direct energy research action through the delivery of the annual RD&D Programme and through capacity-building processes with citizens and communities as well as private and public sector organisations. The revitalised SEAI RD&D Programme launched in 2018 and since then it has developed into a multi-annual call, involving companies, non-academic research institutions, 3rd level educational bodies, public sector, and semi-state bodies. SEAI also collaborate with other state bodies, including the Marine Institute, to co-fund research in cross-cutting areas, like this FASTSHIP project.

Details of energy research projects can be viewed on the National Energy Research Database.  

About Marine Institute: The Marine Institute is the state agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland. It provides government, public agencies and the maritime industry with a range of scientific, advisory and economic development services that inform policy-making, regulation and the sustainable management and growth of Ireland’s marine resources. Through the Institute’s Marine Research Programme it provides competitive funding for Irish-based researchers under national and international calls and initiatives.

This project is being supported with financial contribution from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Marine Institute under the SEAI National Energy Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2022, Grant number 22/RDD/876.

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