Innovative propulsion testbed

'HRV1' uses twin Selva 40hp outboards to manoeuvre out to the test area
'HRV1' uses twin Selva 40hp outboards to manoeuvre out to the test area
Detail of the vessel's unique tilting drive system
Detail of the vessel's unique tilting drive system
The test bed has helped output a new design of modular propeller
The test bed has helped output a new design of modular propeller (International patent pending)
HRV1 operates out of Torquay harbour
'HRV1' operates out of Torquay harbour

UK marine propulsion specialist company Teignbridge has recently launched ‘HRV1’, a unique catamaran for physical testing and rapid prototyping.

While Teignbridge makes extensive use of numerical analysis methods, it is typical that such methods still require verification by physical testing to instil customer confidence and to minimise human error related to model setup.

Over the past two years, Teignbridge has turned a long-term, ‘what-if’ dream into reality with the creation of a floating prototype propulsion system laboratory – HRV1 (Hydrodynamic Research Vessel 1) for the purpose of physical model testing and rapid prototyping of new ideas.

HRV1’s key feature is her 375kW retractable pod drive system which provides a highly instrumented test cell which, once fitted with a propeller or other shaftline component, is lowered through a moon pool in the centre of the vessel. An onboard gantry crane enables propellers to be quickly changed at sea, enabling multiple propeller trials to be completed in a day.

Propeller designer creativity is typically hampered by a lack of visibility on the exact performance of a new design at full-scale and in a real-world deployment. Tank testing and cavitation tunnel work provide accurate results, but with challenging hydrodynamic scaling effects (particularly in relation to novel designs), high costs, and long test cycle times.

HRV1 is a different kind of tool, providing the facility to sea trial propellers of up to 1.2m in diameter (compared to typical 0.25m in a tank test), and enabling Teignbridge to rapid-prototype new concepts, working from design to prototype to test results in just a few days.

A wealth of data on the marine environment is collected to minimise the impact of changing environmental conditions associated with model testing outside of a laboratory environment, and all performance assessment work carried out on HRV1 is compared against in-house CFD simulation.

HRV1 is currently configured to support Teignbridge’s £3million High Efficiency Propulsion Systems (HEPS) project commissioned and funded by the Energy Technologies Institute to reduce GHG emissions from handysize bulk carriers, product tankers as well as ferries, offshore service vessels and container feeders. The HRV1 HEPS configuration uses a slow-speed, high-torque shaft driven pod, incorporating a six-speed automotive gearbox for speed and power output flexibility.

In order to accurately capture propeller performance data, HRV1 is fitted with a sophisticated array of sensors including gyroscope + accelerometer modules to model measure vessel motions, and a propeller shaft mounted fibre optic thrust and torque sensor array, key to establishing hydrodynamic efficiency. Speed through water (by Doppler Velocity Log), GPS, engine data and more, are gathered from the onboard NMEA 2000 system using LabVIEW software which collates and pre-processes performance data before communicating through a wireless link with Teignbridge HQ back on dry land. HRV1 operates out of Torquay harbour in South Devon, UK, and uses the sheltered waters of Torbay as a test ground.

An early output of the HEPS project is an innovative and (international patent pending) concept in propeller design and construction that provides a flexible alternative to traditional mono-bloc propellers and existing bolt on blade designs.  The CNC precision machined components are designed to facilitate ease of transportation, storage, installation, repair and replacement. This modular propeller has a number of advantages compared to a existing mono-bloc and detachable blade designs:

*             A smaller hub increases the working area of the propeller, increasing thrust and reducing drag..

*             The unit can be retrofitted to any shaft (hydraulic or keyed)).

*             The modular Construction enables ease of transportation as the systemcansystem can be shipped in a container.

*             The low component weight of each part of the system increases ease of fitting.

*             The vessel operator can carry individual spares on board for emergency replacement.

*             Individual or multiple blades can be replaced without dry docking.

Teignbridge will be exhibiting the Clamp on Blade propeller at SMM in September and welcomes any enquiries and requests for technical information.

By Jake Frith

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