A more efficient, environmentally friendly propulsion system for shipping has been designed by researchers at a Scottish University.
Led by the University of Strathclyde under the Horizon 2020 Fund, the GATERS projects will see a new novel ‘gate rudder’ system demonstrated as part of a €6 million research programme.
Unlike traditional rudder systems, which sit behind a ship’s propellors to steer the vessel, the U-shaped gate rudder, comprised of two separate rudders, sits astride the propeller.
Researchers say this acts as a nozzle around the propellor, generating additional thrust in a more efficient manner.
Both rudders can also be independently controlled to enhance steering, as well as to help vessels move sideways more easily when docking.
Researchers will use data gathered from sea trials to demonstrate for the first time whether the system could be applied to an existing 90m coastal cargo ship as a “retrofit” and to explore its applications for other oceangoing vessel types and sizes.
Initial trials show the gate rudder has a “remarkable” fuel-saving potential of up to 15% in calm waters. Additionally, fuel efficiency can increase as high as 30% compared to conventional means in rough seas.
The gate rudder is also quieter than a traditional rudder system, reduces hull wake, and can help to protect the propeller from damage – particularly beneficial in sensitive environments such as the Arctic.
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Professor Mehmet Atlar, project coordinator from the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAOME) at Strathclyde, said the technology boasts environmental and regulatory benefits long-term.
“GATERS demonstrates significantly reduced emissions from ships particularly within coastal and port areas, challenging and even exceeding the current and future legislative requirements of the International Marine Organisation and local regulations for emissions,” he said.
“As a propulsor-based solution, the gate rudder offers a significant amount of power-saving that cannot be achieved by any other single energy-saving device which is currently available in the market.”
A key advantage of the new system, Atlar added, is that it can be installed on new-built ships or retrofitted to existing vessels. It can also be easily integrated with other fuel-saving and emission reduction technologies.
“Based on these features, the gate rudder design presents a great prospect of replacing conventional design,” he said.