With all the possibilities of technical advancement, there are endless ways to be innovative these days. With that in mind, what is the significance of technology and innovation in shipbuilding? We can go back to the American Civil War in 1862, wherein two ironclad warships battled for the first time. Not one ship sunk; thus, both parties claimed victory.
For naval technology, this was an important milestone. Why? Because ironclad warships had shown an increase in survivability compared to their wooden-hulled predecessors. Presently, the battlefield is evolving faster than ever and the need has emerged for a new breed of warships with increased speed, agility, and stealth.
Look no further! The answer is aluminum.
5xxx aluminum alloys
Aluminum allows vessels to be made lighter and faster at one-third the density of steel. The corrosion resistance and strength of new alloys, especially the 5xxx series of aluminum alloys, make it an ideal choice for constructing sea-going vessels. Adding elements to pure aluminum produces a chemical composition with improved properties creating an aluminum alloy that increases strength. A 4-digit number is then assigned in which the first digit represents a general series that characterizes its main alloying elements.
The primary agent for the 5xxx series is magnesium which gives the alloy strength and good weldability, amongst other things. In naval ships alone, 6,000 tons of aluminum are used each year on destroyers. For more than a decade now, 5456 plate and extrusions have become the benchmark for the welded deckhouse structures of destroyers. The weight-saving ability of the 5xxx series allows the ship to maintain stability with a narrow hull that is crucial in reaching high speeds.
Advantages of 5xxx aluminum alloys
The structures save 55-67% of their weight by using a 5xxx aluminum alloy. The ships can increase payload, haul more equipment, and lower the energy required to power the boat. The 5xxx series has good weld ductility without post-weld treatments due to the weld yield strengths of 100-200 MPa. It has lower corrosion resistance which is ideal for any structure encountering water or chemicals. The tensile strength of the alloy showed reductions of only 2-5% throughout a 10-year seawater test.