A more efficient gate rudder system, designed at the University of Strathclyde, will be demonstrated as part of a €6 million EU-funded research project. The GATERS project led by the University of Strathclyde under the Horizon 2020 Fund, will see the gate rudder – a novel propulsion and steering system – retro-fitted 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 as well as providing additional crabbing ability when docking.
In early trials, the gate rudder has shown ‘remarkable’ fuel-saving potential of 15% in calm waters, while this can be as high as 30% in rough seas, the team claims. 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.
Professor Mehmet Atlar, who is the project coordinator from Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAOME) at Strathclyde, said: “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.
The researchers will use data gathered from the 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, hence, ultimately become the next generation propulsion and steering system for waterborne transport.