Environmental implications of a sandwich structure of a glass fiber-reinforced polymer ship

Zhiqiang Han, Jaewon Jang, Jean-Baptiste R. G. Souppez, Maydison, Daekyun Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study presents the findings related to the selection of composite structures for materials with respect to the effectiveness of their lightweight design and environmental impact during the raw material manufacturing phases. The primary raw materials considered were glass fiber, PVC for the core, and polyester resin. In addition, using the same design conditions, such as bottom load, impregnation rate, and production method, a reverse engineering approach was applied to transform the sandwich structure into a single laminate structure, allowing for a comparative quantitative analysis of the reduction in lightweight effectiveness. The results revealed that the sandwich structure was approximately 42.44% lighter than that of the reverse-engineered single-skin laminate structure. A life cycle evaluation was also conducted, and the raw materials required for hull construction were analyzed with SimaPro 9.0 as the LCA tool software, Ecoinvent 3 for inventory analysis, and the ReCiPe 2016 method for environmental impact analysis. PVC foam and polyester resin were identified as highly hazardous for both human and environmental health, whereas fiberglass exhibited the lowest emissions among the materials considered. Furthermore, the sandwich structure offered greater environmental advantages across all damage endpoints than the single-skin laminates. This finding highlights the potential of sandwich structures as a more sustainable option. In practical terms, enhancing the bending strength of the core material in sandwich structures can reduce the thickness of the outer and inner skin members, thereby reducing the weight of ships and significantly reducing potential health risks to human worker health, harm to the ecosystem, and resource demands.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117122
Number of pages10
JournalOcean Engineering
Early online date2 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0).

Data Access Statement

The data that has been used is confidential.


  • Composite material
  • Global warming potential
  • Life cycle evaluation
  • Sandwich structure
  • Toxicity to human health


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