A group of Japanese firms, including Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries
Co., have signed a deal with the Defense Agency to develop new materials for building ships, part of a Japan-U.S. agreement to conduct research in this field together, according to a report on www.tmcnet.com.
By switching from the usual steel to new materials, the firms hope to make ships lighter and more durable, the report said.
A potential new material, carbon fiber, is 10 times as strong as steel and 80 percent lighter in weight. Another material, stainless steel, is more rust-resistant than steel and does not break as easily. Their use is expected to make ships stronger because vessels in major accidents often snap in the middle and sink, according to the report.