Lehigh University
Lehigh University


High-speed boating gets a 21st-century facelift

The 29-foot-long high-speed boat fabricated by Joachim Grenestedt and colleagues contains panels made of composite materials bonded to a frame of stainless steel.

A high-speed boat measuring 29 feet long and made of a unique hybrid of materials will be unveiled today (Thursday, Nov. 11) in a public naming ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on the lawn in front of the University Center.

The Lehigh High-Speed Research Craft was designed, tested and fabricated at Lehigh by a group of researchers led by Joachim Grenestedt, professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics.

President Alice Gast will formally unveil the boat and lead a nonalcoholic champagne toast. Grenestedt will give a presentation.

The boat’s panels are made of composite materials and bonded to an internal skeleton, or frame, of stainless steel. The purpose of the project is to show that these hybrid materials can be used for much larger crafts, including frigates and destroyers. The boat is also designed to enable researchers to study the effect of slamming, or belly-flopping, which imposes more loading forces on boats than any other phenomenon.

The fabrication of the boat in Lehigh’s ATLSS (Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems) Center culminated 10 years of research funded by the Office of Naval Research. Grenestedt’s team includes Bill Maroun, a technician in the mechanical engineering and mechanics department, and six graduate students—Robert Thodal, Jian Lv, Scott Shirey, Drew Truxel, Brett Snowden and Jack Reany.

Grenestedt, who directs Lehigh’s Composites Laboratory, played a major role in the structural design and materials testing of the Visby, a 239-foot-long Swedish stealth ship that was the largest carbon-fiber ship ever built when it was launched in 2000.

Last year, Grenestedt set the U.S. land speed record for 125-cc engines when he skimmed across Utah’s Bonneville Speedway at 133.165mph in an enclosed streamliner motorcycle that he designed and fabricated from composite materials, including prepreg carbon and glass fibers, vacuum-infused carbon fibers, wet-laid glass fibers, foam cores sandwich, honeycomb sandwich and single skin.


Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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