The University of Strathclyde is leading the development of a novel rudder system as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme
The €6.0M (US$7.3M) GATERS project will see the gate rudder propulsion and steering system retrofitted to a commercial vessel as part of a trial.
Unlike a traditional rudder which sits behind a ship’s propellers to steer the vessel, the U-shaped gate rudder – essentially two separate rudders – sits astride the propeller which, as a result, acts like a nozzle around the propeller and generates additional thrust.
Both rudders can be independently controlled to provide better steering and to help vessels move sideways – called crabbing – when docking, for example. The gate rudder is also quieter than a traditional rudder system, reducing hull wake, and can help to protect the propeller from damage.
The University of Stratclyde said early trials have shown the design has the potential to shave fuel use up to 15% in calm waters with improved manoeuvrability.
The project co-ordinator from Strathclyde’s Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAOME), Professor Mehmet Atlar added “An important advantage of the gate rudder system is highly effective manoeuvrability within coastal and port areas as well as navigating more efficiently in waves during oceangoing operations.”
“In addition, the gate rudder system is simple, generic and flexible and can be installed on newbuild ships or retrofitted to existing ships, and is integrated easily with other fuel-saving and emissions reduction technologies. Based on these features, the gate rudder design presents a great prospect of replacing conventional design.”
Researchers will use data gathered from the sea trials to demonstrate if the system can be retrofitted to a 90-m coastal cargo ship and to explore its applications across all vessel classes.
The project brings together 18 technology experts and stakeholders, including Dr Noriyuki Sasaki, a visiting Professor in NAOME, and the holder of four active patents which have been used for vessels built by Sumitomo. The concept of the gate rudder has been licensed to Wärtsilä.
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