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Advancing Innovation in Marine Engineering. Irish company, Ocean Energy and project partner, NUI Galway, have recently been awarded €195,565 funding under the Marine Institute’s industry-led awards. The funding will support a project to test advanced materials and jointing methods for potential use in the marine energy and aquaculture sectors.

This award will build on Ocean Energy’s previous research and development with the US Department of Energy in the area of advanced materials for marine energy. “Marine materials are subject to some of the harshest conditions in the world, battling natural elements, corrosive and erosive seas as well as temperature and weather changes. Developing advanced marine materials can be very costly and in some cases, prohibitive. The use of composite materials in marine applications has normally been reserved for high value pleasure craft using moulded construction but there are significant opportunities to adapt these materials for use in other marine sectors,” said John McCarthy, CEO of Ocean Energy.

Recent research by McCarthy’s Cork-based company Ocean Energy, demonstrates that there may be a potential opportunity to utilise this high value material (Fibre Reinforced Polymer or FRP) to fabricate low-cost marine structures that are suitable for mass production. The aim of this Marine Institute-funded research is to deliver a validated and commercial method of FRP jointing and construction for application in the marine energy and aquaculture sectors, which could ultimately reduce both capital and operating costs for businesses operating in these sectors.

“Through the Industry-Led Awards, as recently announced by Minister Creed, we are investing €2.4m to fund 12 projects supporting Irish SMEs to establish new commercial opportunities for advanced marine products and services. This award to Ocean Energy and NUIGalway will support the development of high-strength, low-cost fiberglass-based materials for use in harsh marine conditions. If successful, the work will not only advance opportunities for the company, but will potentially benefit companies working across the marine energy and aquaculture sectors,” said Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute.

Increased economic growth and job creation from small and medium sized enterprises based in Ireland is a key component of several national strategies and regional development plans. A key output of the Marine Institute’s Strategic Plan, guided by the Governments’ Integrated Marine Plan ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth,’ is to support a thriving and sustainable maritime economy. The recent industry-led award in engineering made by the Marine Institute, is also aligned with the goals of the national Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017–2021.

Funding for this engineering research project is provided by the Marine Institute and the Irish Government, co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).