The understanding of the performance of a propeller in realistic operative conditions is nowadays a key issue for improving design techniques, guaranteeing safety and continuity of operation at sea, and reducing maintenance costs. In this paper, a summary of the recent research carried out at CNR-INSEAN devoted to the analysis of propeller loads in realistic operative scenarios, with particular emphasis on the in-plane loads, is presented. In particular, the experimental results carried out on a free running maneuvering model equipped with a novel force transducer are discussed and supported by
(Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis and the use of a simplified propeller model, based on Blade Element Momentum Theory, with the aim of achieving a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that govern the functioning of the propeller in off-design. Moreover, the analysis includes the scaling factors that can be used to obtain a prediction from model measurements, the propeller radial force being the primary cause of failures of the shaft bearings. In particular, the analysis highlighted that cavitation at full scale can cause the increment of in-plane loads by about 20% with respect to a non-cavitating case, that that in-plane loads could be more sensitive to cavitation than thrust and torque, and that Reynolds number effect is negligible. For the analysis of cavitation, an alternative version of the
solver, improved with cavitation linear theory, was developed.
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