A new rudder system, designed at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, will be demonstrated as part of a €6m ($7.2m) European Union-funded research project.
The GATERS project, led by the University of Strathclyde under the Horizon 2020 Fund, will see the so called 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 (pictured) – 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 steering better as well as helping vessels move sideways – called crabbing – when docking.
The gate rudder offers power-saving that cannot be achieved by any other single energy-saving device in the market
In early trials, the gate rudder has shown fuel-saving potential of 15% in calm waters, while this can be as high as 30% in rough seas and improved manoeuvrability.
The gate rudder is also quieter than a traditional rudder system, reduces hull wake, and can help to protect the propeller from damage.
Professor Mehmet Atlar, who is the project coordinator from the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAOME) at Strathclyde, claimed: “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.”
The researchers will use data gathered from the sea trials to demonstrate whether the system could be applied to an existing 90 m coastal cargo ship as a retrofit and to explore its applications for other oceangoing vessel types and sizes.
The concept of the gate rudder has been licenced to the world’s largest propulsion manufacturer, Wartsila.