Propulsion efficiency by design: towards a zero-emissions sailboat

Amedeo Migali, Daniele Bruno (MICAD)

Simulation Driven Propeller Design delivers efficiency, and onboard comfort while lowering manufacturing costs.

The marine industry has experienced significant technological changes in recent years with the emerging use of shaft-less rim-driven propeller. Such electric propulsion system brings many advantages compared with the conventional ship propulsion plants,  significantly reducing noise, along with increased onboard comfort and compact size.

MICAD, an Italian design house active in all sea-related industries, took as a baseline this innovative propulsion system to build a prototype of a zero-emissions electric sailboat within the framework of  P.E.R.Na. European Regional Project.

Naval engineers at MICAD made use of ESTECO’s modeFRONTIER software to improve the hydrodynamic rim-driven propeller performance for sailboat applications. modeFRONTIER comprehensive solution for process automation and optimization provides a  modular environment to reduce complexity, improve efficiency, and cut development time.  With modeFRONTIER, engineers at MICAD enabled workflow automation of the simulation process. By applying modeFRONTIER multi-disciplinary top range optimization techniques they found the best set of parameters to design the optimum propeller blades. From the initial shape created manually, the optimization process made it faster to choose, among hundreds of propeller variants, a design with an efficiency almost two times higher. As a result, the optimum propeller design was realized through additive manufacturing in synthesized nylon and tested in open sea conditions, achieving an adequate operative range.