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Open Water Tow Tank Testing of a Surface Piercing Propeller

Karl von Ellenrieder, FAU Department of Ocean Engineering, Dania Beach, Florida, USA
Justin Lorio, FAU Department of Ocean Engineering, Dania Beach, Florida, USA
Luis Altamirano, FAU Department of Ocean Engineering, Dania Beach, Florida, USA
ABSTRACT DLHSTT Davidson Lab. High Speed Towing Tank

 Froude Number
Open water tests of a surface piercing propeller with a pitch
to diameter ratio of 1.9 have been performed in a non- 
,  ,  Force components (shaft-fixed system)
pressurized towing tank. Flow visualizations of the Gravitational acceleration
ventilated cavities formed behind the propeller and Propeller depth of submergence

shaftline force/torque measurements were taken at tip  Immersion ratio

immersion ratios of 0.50 and 0.33, yaw angles from 0 to 
 Advance ratio
30 and inclination angles from 0 to 15 for advance ratios 
ranging from 0.8 to 1.9. Three wake parameters, the wake  Scaled advance coefficient
pitch, wake pitch angle and wake diameter, were identified  Torque Coefficient
and semi-automatically measured using composite images  Thrust Coefficient
of the wake of the surface piercing propeller. The 
,  ,  Torque components (shaft-fixed system)
symmetry of the wake at non zero yaw angles, as well as  Propeller rotation rate [Hz]
the time evolution of the width of successive ventilated  ,  Pitch of   ,  ventilated cavity
cavities in the wake were explored. It was found that the  Pitch to diameter ratio
wake pitch angle changes proportionally to the advance  Pitch of trailing edge
ratio and does not change significantly as yaw angle  = 
Propeller shaft torque
changes; the ratio of wake diameter to SPP diameter  2
 Reynolds Number
increases as the advance ratio decreases; and the wake was 
most symmetric at a depth of immersion of 33%, a yaw SPP Surface Piercing Propeller
angle of 15 degrees, zero shaft inclination angle, and an  = 
advance ratio of 1.2. The SPP was found to operate in a  Advance speed of propeller
fully ventilated condition for scaled advanced ratios of  Scaled advance speed of propeller
0.905 0.721. A six component load cell was integrated V Cavity speed of closure

with the rotating propeller shaft line to provide  Weber Number
 ! /"
measurements of propeller thrust, torque, side forces and
X Distance for triggering camera
moments. An examination of the efficiencies determined
# Shaft inclination angle
from these measurements and subsequent analyses reveal
$ Open water efficiency
that, while the thrust measurements are near values
" Density of water
expected from empirical relations, there appears to be an
error in the torque measurements, likely due to an ! Capillarity constant of water
instrumentation problem. Nevertheless, the time histories % Kinematic viscosity of water
of the load cell data are instructive in qualitatively & Angular position of propeller blade
illustrating the relation between carriage speed, propeller W Pitch angle of trailing wake
speed and the transient forces/moments acting on the Yaw angle
 Ventilated cavity width The use of surface piercing propellers (SPPs) shows
0 Thickness of blade trailing edge promise for high speed operation by virtually eliminating
 Propeller diameter appendage drag, which can be as much as 30 percent of the
total drag on a vehicle at high speeds. The scarcity of
 Diameter of trailing wake

available systematic test data has made reliable typical of surface piercing propellers with a very sharp
performance prediction difficult. leading edge and a thick, blunt trailing edge. The diameter
is 9.7 inches and the pitch to diameter ratio ( ) is about
Surface Piercing Propellers have been used by the marine 1.9. The  ratio is typical of small, racing powerboats,
racing community for decades, and have been used on with extremely high power to weight ratios, but high in
surface vehicles which travel in excess of 50 [m/s]. The comparison to other SPPs described in the research
U.S. Navy has also used them for the propulsion of surface literature (e.g. Olofsson, 1996; Ferrando et al. 2007).
effects ships and other small high speed vessels, some of
which have attained speeds in excess of 40 [m/s], such as
the SES 100B (Clark, 2004). The design of a partially
submerged propeller drive system allows for most of the
drive assembly (shafts, struts, stern tubes, etc.), as well as
half of the propeller, to be elevated above the water surface
when the vehicle is running at speed. This reduction in the
operational profile gives a shallow draft, as well as a
considerable drop in the total drag on the vessel.

The nature of SPP operation presents many problems for

designers. The interaction of the blade of the propeller
with the air/water interface is a difficult physical problem
to model mathematically so that physical experiments are
an important part of the design process. For this reason, the
preliminary costs of incorporating SPPs into a marine Figure 1 The test propeller.
vehicle design can be very high.
The test condition matrix is shown in Table 1. The
Of particular interest to designers is a fuller understanding experiments were conducted at Reynolds numbers between
of the effects of variable orientation (yaw, shaft inclination 8.0 105  1.1 106 . Immersion ratios of 0.33
angle, and depth of immersion see Figure 2) on the open and 0.5 were investigated. The immersion ratio value of
water performance of an SPP. In this vein, flow 0.33 was chosen because the extensive set of experiments
visualizations of the ventilated cavities behind a surface conducted in Olofsson (1996), was at immersion ratios
piercing propeller and six component load cell values of 0.33. This was thought to be a good basis of
measurements were conducted. The flow visualizations and comparison to validate the data obtained by the new test
load cell measurements are discussed separately following apparatus. The immersion ratio of 0.5 was also chosen
a description of the SPP test apparatus and the because it is the value most common in practical operation
experimental conditions. of SPPs. A total of 95 combinations of this matrix were

The experiments were conducted in the Davidson

Laboratory High Speed Towing Tank (DLHSTT) at the
Stevens Institute of Technology. The Davidson Lab
provided the towing carriage, photographic equipment and Figure 2 - Definitions of (a) yaw angle and immersion ratio
technical support, while the propeller testing apparatus was I = h/D, (b) shaft inclination angle , and (c) SPP rate of
designed and built by FAU and the experiments were revolution n.
planned and conducted by FAU. The towing tank is 4.9 [m]
wide by 2.0 [m] deep by 95.40 [m] long. As shown in Table 1- Test conditions
Table 1, test runs were conducted at advance ratios of
between J = 0.8 and J = 1.8; carriage speed was set to I (%) (degrees) J (degrees)
either 6.5 [m/s] or 7.6 [m/s] and the advance ratio was 33 0, 7.5, 15 0.8-1.9 0, 15, 30
mainly controlled by varying the rotational speed of the 50 0 0.8-1.9 0
As the experiments were conducted in a non-pressurized
The test propeller (Figure 1) was donated by Dewald facility, the atmospheric pressure cannot be varied in the
Propellers, Inc. of Reading, PA USA. The propeller is a test section and so the cavitation number cannot be
full-sized (prototype scale), stainless steel, four-bladed, controlled. In order for the effects of cavitation to be
left-handed cleaver style SPP, designed and built for minimized, such that the ventilated cavities behind a SPP
Formula 1 outboard racing boats. It has a blade section assume their final form, a Froude value of  > 3 must be

maintained (Shiba, 1953). It was possible to maintain run was designed and constructed for this effort (Figure 3).
 > 3 for all test cases except J 1.8. At this advance A novel feature of the system is that it allows the SPP to be
ratio the carriage speed was kept at the same value as for J tested while completely submerged for baseline
= 1.6 (7.62 m/s), and the rotational rate  was reduced to comparisons with the performance of conventional
increase the advance ratio. Additionally, Weber numbers of propellers. The measurement instrumentation features an
 > 180 were maintained to prevent surface tension in-line, 6 component load cell that was used to measure the
effects from influencing the shape of the ventilated cavities forces and moments acting on the propeller and a
(Shiba, 1953). tachometer with position encoder so that the measured
forces and moments can be synchronized with propeller
A purpose-built test apparatus, which permits the propeller position and speed. Further details of the mechanical
boat to be remotely positioned in heave, yaw and design and instrumentation can be found in Lorio (2010).
inclination by computer control between each experimental

Heave Motor Prop Motor


Pitch Motor
Yaw Motor
Linear Stage

Spray Shield
Figure 3 - CAD model (left) and physical realization of SPP test apparatus.

Experimental Procedure and Velocity Scaling

Before each test run, the SPP is positioned at the desired cos # cos sin sin # cos 9
depth of immersion, shaft inclination angle and yaw angle.  = - cos # sin cos sin # sin 7 - 0 7,
The immersion ratio was verified using guide lines drawn sin # 0 cos # 0
on the propeller blades, shaft inclination angle was 
 = .
measured using an electronic inclinometer built into the 
SPP testing apparatus and the yaw angle was measured
using a protractor. At the start of each run, a count-down FLOW VISUALIZATIONS
was given to synchronize the initiation of data collection The equipment for the flow visualizations consists of two
from the load cell and tachometer with the start of video still cameras, five flashes, an underwater mirror and two
recording and the towing carriage. video recorders.

It has been shown that by using the velocity component Still Cameras The Davidson Lab is equipped with a test
parallel to the propeller shaft to calculate the advance ratio section window located midway along its length. At this
causes the performance curves for thrust coefficient, torque location, two cameras are positioned. Camera 1 (Figure 4)
coefficient and efficiency to collapse upon one another, for is an underwater camera aimed at a mirror on the bottom of
different immersion ratios and angles of shaft inclination the tank, allowing it to take bottom view images of the
(Ferrando et al., 2007). In the results that follow, a scaled trailing wake of the propeller. Camera 2 is used to
advance ratio is used where the Euler angles are applied to photograph the side view of the propeller as it passed the
transform the velocity coordinates from a towing carriage test section window. Both still cameras are digital SLR
referenced coordinate system to a coordinate system having cameras with 18-55 mm focal length lenses. Figure 5
the same yaw and inclination as the SPP test apparatus: shows side and bottom images obtained with cameras 1 and
2; the mirror support frames appear as black bands in the
bottom view images.

SPP wake
Mirror Frames

Figure 5 - Original images of (a) side view with camera 1 and

(b) bottom view with camera 2 for condition I = 33%, = 0,
= 0, J = 1.176, J_scaled= 1.176.

Video Cameras Two video cameras were mounted on the

towing carriage at the positions indicated in Figure 6 and
were used to capture images of spray in front of the SPP.
Camera 2

Figure 4 - Location of still cameras and mirror.

Wake Reflection

Figure 6 - Location of video cameras.

Flow Visualization Image Analyses

SPP Wake Consider the definition of pitch (assuming no slip) given in
Newman (1977). It can be seen that
Wave Dampening Float
Pitch = PW = ,
and (Figure 7)

U 1 J
a) W = tan1 :; < ; <@ = tan1 ; <. (1)
n D

Flow Visualization Results

At lower values of Jscaled , the ratio DW /D increases with

respect to the angular position of the SPP while at higher
values of Jscaled , this ratio remains nearly constant (see
Figure 9 and Figure 10, for example). For all values of
depth of immersion, inclination and yaw, the ratio of wake
diameter to propeller diameter DW /D at propeller position
& = 3/2 increases as Jscaled decreases. At low values of
Jscaled , a higher number of ventilated cavities are visible.
Additionally, W does no change significantly as
changes. This finding may be counter-intuitive as one
might expect to see the ventilated cavities maintain their
orientation with respect to the SPP shaft.

Figure 7 - Nomenclature for trailing wake parameters after

Olofsson (1996).

Thus, according to equation 1, the wake pitch angle is

expected to change proportionally as the advance ratio
changes. Dividing PW by D gives:

= J .
D nD

Thus a comparison between two images of the SPP wake at

the same depth of immersion, shaft inclination angle and
yaw angle, but tested at different values of  is expected to
show that lower values of  produce a larger number of
ventilated cavities (provided that the images have an equal
magnification). Note that the angle & here is the angular
position of the propeller at the time each cavity was formed
and can be used to relate distance downstream from the
propeller, or correspondingly the time since a cavity is

One can define a pitch for each cavity  using the pitch
angle of the cavity W and the diameter of the cavity 
(Figure 8). In order to explore the evolution of the
ventilated cavities produced by the SPP, A Matlab
program, that semi-automatically measures W and  for
each cavity through image processing of the recorded
images, was developed. The details of the algorithm and
image processing code can be found in Altamirano (2010).

Figure 9 - Wake parameters of condition I = 33%, = 0,

= 0, J = 0.767, Jscaled = 0.767.

At the conditions tested, the ratio PW /D varies almost

Figure 8 - Wake parameters local to each cavity. linearly with respect to propeller position and this
behavior does not change as the yaw angle changes in

agreement with Olofsson (1996). The range of values of the of = 15, this bowl appearance diminishes and at values
cavity pitch PW /D is proportional to the value of Jscaled . of = 30, it is not noticeable. The bowl-like form does
There is a region where the SPP experiences a fully not appear to be affected by shaft inclination angle .
ventilated regime (a ventilated region made up of many
merged ventilated cavities). For all cases, the average
region of the scaled advance ratio Jscaled for fully ventilated
condition is calculated to be 0.905 0.721. This region is
in the neighborhood of that observed by Brandt (1973).

Figure 11 Side view of the bowl-shaped cavities behind a

SPP (I = 0.50; A = BC ; F = BC ; GHIKLMN = G = B. BOQR).

In Olofsson (1996), it is suggested that the more symmetric

an SPP wake is, the more efficient it will be at producing
thrust. While the efficiency cannot be determined from the
load cell measurements made here, the image analysis code
was also used to explore the symmetry of the wake as a
function of distance downstream from the propeller. In
Figure 12 a perfectly symmetrical condition exists when
Symmetry/D = 0. For a depth of immersion of I = 33%,
shaft inclination angle of = 0, and yaw angle of = 15,
the most symmetric wake is created when Jscaled = 1.363.
For all values of the scaled advance ratio Jscaled the wake
becomes more symmetrical, as& increases until = , after
which the wake becomes more asymmetrical.

Figure 10- Wake parameters of condition I = 33%, = 7.5,

= 30, J = 0.994, J_scaled= 0.853.

From the side view images it is possible to see that the

ventilated cavities have the shape of a bowl (Figure 11): the Figure 12 - Symmetry measurements for condition I = 33%,
tip of the ventilated cavity travels downstream with a lower = 0, = 15.
speed than the center of the wake. This agrees with
observations made by Olofsson (1996) and Hoshino (1989)
and may be explained by the pressure gradient established
Data from the output of the six component load cell and
within the jet created by the propeller. The bowl-shape
propeller position/velocity data from the slip ring were
form of the ventilated cavities is clearly appreciable when
simultaneously collected using a multichannel data
the shaft inclination and yaw are zero. At yaw angles
acquisition system. The raw data were stored in a database

for post processing. The load cell data were converted to
metric forces and moments using a cross talk matrix,
determined during sensor calibration, to cancel out any
cross talk between load cell channels caused by the multi-
axis nature of the propeller loads. The filtered data were
then plotted to determine the sample range where the
propeller was in steady state operation.

It was found that the force data, in many cases, was biased.
To calculate the time average forces, the mean of the
steady state section of each test run was taken. To offset
the bias, a data sample was taken where the towing carriage
and propeller were stationary. The section of data was
taken either at the beginning or end of each run, depending
on which side had more samples. The forces and moments
were then calculated from the time average thrust, torque
and propeller speed obtained from the experimental data.
Figure 13 Unsteady loading during towing carriage
It could be seen, upon visual inspection, in each case the acceleration.
data had an initial static phase, which was the period of
time before the propeller and carriage started motion. The
static section was followed immediately by an almost
instantaneous jump in thrust, but a more gradual increase in
torque. Thrust immediately increases to its maximum
value for the run due to the propeller accelerating faster
than the carriage, which causes the SPP to drag the Figure 14 Thrust coefficient KT for experimental values
carriage. As the carriage and propeller speeds reach steady (blue) and predicted values (in red).
state, Thrust drops gradually, then levels off, while torque
reaches its maximum value as propeller rotational rate
reaches its peak value (Figure 13). CONCLUDING REMARKS

When comparing the results of the experiments to A model SPP was tested with varying depths of immersion,
predictions of the thrust coefficient  shaft inclination angles and yaw angles. The experimental
apparatus developed for testing the SPP appears to be novel
 in that it permits one to test all three of these important
 degrees of freedom in a single facility.
"2  4

and torque coefficient  , ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 This work was supported under the National Naval

 Responsibility for Naval Engineering Program
"2  5
administered by Ms. K. Cooper. The authors would like to
gratefully acknowledge the technical assistance and support
the experimental values of  (Figure 14) are within the
of: Prof. R. Datla, Mr. M. Morabito, D. Meding and R.
range of expected values, while  values appear to be
Weiss at the Stevens Institute of Technology; as well as
lower than predicted by a factor of about 10. It is felt that, that of Mr. T. Furfaro, P. Duerr, L. Padilla and Prof. M.
while the time-dependent trends in the torque coefficient Dhanak from FAU.
appear to qualitatively agree with expectations, the low
quantitative values suggest that there is an instrumentation
error, possibly a problem with the load cell amplifier or the
electrical wiring and so the torque and efficiency data are Altamirano, L. M., "Flow Visualization of the Ventilated
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