Researchers develop laser-hybrid welding method for high manganese steel LNG fuel tanks

By Lim Chang-won Posted : July 22, 2021, 15:12 Updated : July 22, 2021, 15:12

[Courtesy of KIMM]

SEOUL -- South Korean researchers have developed a new laser-hybrid welding method that can drastically reduce time to manufacture high manganese steel fuel tanks for liquefied natural gas carriers. The new method combines laser light and an electrical arc into an amalgamated welding process.

The state-run Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials (KIMM) said its research team has teamed up with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), a major domestic shipbuilder, to develop a new welding technology that can increase the competitiveness of South Korea's shipbuilding industry.

Mangalloy, also called manganese steel, is an alloy steel known for its high impact strength and resistance to abrasion. High manganese steel is drawing attention as a next-generation storage tank material because it has strength and toughness similar to stainless steel.

"As we have taken the first step in developing the world's first commercial hybrid laser-arc welding technology, we will greatly contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of our eco-friendly ship technology," Lee Kwang-hyun, a researcher at the Busan Machinery Research Center, a research division of KIMM, said in a statement on July 22.

The new welding technology can reduce production time while welding more robustly than conventional methods, KIMM said. Arc welding produces too shallow and wide weld depth and produces a large amount of welding fume, while laser welding ensures simple and quick work. Because the combination of arc and laser beam welding prevents manganese deposition from occurring in the weld part tissue, it is advantageous to manufacture LNG fuel tanks due to its stable cryogenic impact performance.

KIMM and DSME would carry out follow-up research to demonstrate the new welding method. South Korean shipyards have led the construction of LNG vessels amid growing demands for eco-friendly ships to cope with global economic recovery and environmental regulations.
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