The main activities that will be developed from the CoPropel consortium are as follows:
- Knowledge: A deeper understanding of the hydrodynamic performance of flexible marine propellers and the development of numerical analysis tools, together with the implementation of the SHM component, will allow engineers to design “first time right” products reducing development costs and increasing confidence and reputation. Sensorized structures that allow predictive and on-demand maintenance are emerging technologies in aeronautics and early introduction to the marine sector will give a competitive advantage to its users. In addition, implementation of process monitoring and control together with process automation will create novel know-how on composite processing methodologies with increased productivity that will be applicable in a much wider range of products and allow them to deliver them with controllable quality at the right price.
- Propeller Prototype: The demonstration of a complex and demanding marine component such as the propeller with its distinctive design features will reach TRL7 and demonstrate the maturity of the technology together with validation on the utilised methods and tools. Preliminary assessment based on background information that a target number of 100 propellers per year is realistic and would justify the investments. The composite propeller will need to be tailored to the ship characteristics. Retrofitting existing ships could open new potential for marketing.
- Tooling Prototype: CoPropel will lead to the development of a tooling prototype that will validate the technology in an industrial environment and mature it to TRL7. The development of analytical tools to assess QA will drive the know-how to design and manufacture tooling faster with repeatable quality on the end products.
- Access to market: the main interests of the consortium lie in the marine sector and this will be its main focus. Routes to market in other sectors will also be developed during the project to allow full exploitation across a wide range of sectors. The development of new tooling technology for composites processing requires the creation of new knowledge. Protecting this new knowledge will allow the consortium participants to exploit the intellectual property (IP) through sub-licensing to attain further financial gain. Services and consultancy will be required to train the operating personnel, and maintenance support will also be required. The revenue from these services will be added to that from new equipment sales and installation. This represents a significant business opportunity that could be exploited through the SMEs participating in the project. Further revenues could be developed by extending the technology into other sectors such as aeronautics, automotive and energy. These markets have different drivers to the marine market, but all are seeing increasing uptake of advanced lightweight CFRP structures.
- IP generation: the CoPropel project will result in exploitable outputs associated with the design and production of next-generation composite flexible propellers and the associated infusion (RTM) tooling. These will be protected through various means, including patent applications and the development of design rules and guidelines.