Supervisor: James Blake & Jeanne Blanchard (Maritime Engineering)
Most small sailing and motor craft are constructed from glass reinforced polymers (GRP) and the industry represents, by volume, one of the most prolific constructors of worldwide glass composites. GRP has proven through life operational efficiency, facilitating low craft displacements and therefore lower installed power requirements and are cheap to build, maintain and repair. However, GRP has significant environmental impact at the beginning and end of life. To improve and reduce carbon emissions, this PhD research will investigate the utility of natural fibres and resins, and recyclable or biodegradable polymers to create future marine small craft. The challenge is to understand the effect of the marine environment on the structural reliability of these new materials, generating the data set for future design guidance and test the limits of current construction processes. The research will be supported by state of the art experimental facilities and techniques to detail multiscale material behaviour and understand fluid structure interactions. Two key supporters of this initiative are the World Sailing Sustainability Commission and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).