Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) is the first Brazilian university to build a large composite yacht for oceanography research. The boat, named ECO, features structural sandwich panels engineered by Barracuda Advanced Composites using multidirectional fabrics and sandwich foam core materials. Barracuda provided detailed resin infusion processing technology, training and flow modeling.
The project received an initial investment of $750,000 (USD) from the Brazilian Innovation Funding Department and it is now on the final stage of construction. The boat is being built also with resources of the Institute of Oil Research sponsored by the Brazilian Oil Co. (Petrobras) and will be propelled by electric power system provided by sources of clean energy.
Although the Materials Engineering department is heading the construction initiative, the Mechanical Engineering department will be in charge of computational fluid dynamic analysis and material selection and the department of Electric Engineering will develop the electric propulsion and an innovative system to store clean energy. ECO project aims to provide experience in the fields of underwater environmental models and robotics, ocean geology and oceanography.
UFSC has already signed contracts with Petrobras and other companies to research and monitoring the ocean bio reserve around the oil riggings areas in the Brazilian coast.