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Marine Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) - State of the art simulation for ship design and optimization

Download our special report on the use of CFD simulation for marine applications.

The marine industry has traditionally relied on scale model towing tanks for ship performance prediction. While this is still useful, the rise of simulation, particularly marine computational fluid dynamics (CFD), gives the opportunity to investigate ship behavior digitally. This opens the way to predicting ship performance at full scale and under realistic operating conditions. In this special report, we present how engineers and naval architects from leading companies like DNV-GL and ABS are using Simcenter software for marine CFD.

The case studies cover topics such as:

  • Hydrodynamics simulation
  • Aerodynamic analysis
  • Propulsion systems
  • Numerical towing tanks
  • Automated design exploration


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Hydrodynamics simulation provides an alternative to towing tank testing

Towing tanks have been used to determine hydrodynamic performance for over 100 years. However, producing a model and performing the tests are expensive and time-consuming. This means that towing tanks tests usually occur relatively late in the design cycle. The tests are used to verify and fine-tune an established design, rather than providing insight into early design options.

CFD simulation provides a modern alternative to towing tank testing. Engineers can test ship performance digitally, using a virtual model in a numerical towing tank. The hydrodynamics simulations are quick to set up and run, so they can be deployed much earlier in the design process. Doing so provides engineering data that can be used to drive the design into different, better directions, and opens the way to innovation in ship design.

The special report contains case studies showing the use of CFD simulation for a range of applications, including hydrodynamic optimization of a hull and modeling of propeller systems including prediction of cavitation. The studies show the benefits of rapid design evaluation and the range of Multiphysics models available for marine.

Read how design optimization is used for marine applications

To stay ahead in the race to ship efficiency and innovation, ship designers need to quickly predict the outcome of design changes on the real-world performance of the vessel. Design exploration software takes CFD simulation to the next level by enabling rapid, automated evaluation of a wide range of variations, driven by user-defined requirements.

Download the report to read how IBMV used design optimization in the development of their energy-saving devices, and how ABS improved propeller performance using automated design exploration.

Key benefits of using marine computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software

Using marine CFD software means designers can examine every aspect of ship performance, under realistic operating conditions. Our Multiphysics CFD solver is continually developed to provide every solution needed for marine simulations:

  • Prediction of hull resistance
  • Prediction of propeller performance including cavitation
  • Simulation of self-propulsion, either by propellers or virtual disc
  • Prediction of vessel motion, powered response and interaction with waves
  • Combined aerodynamics and hydrodynamics simulations
  • Combined fluid dynamics and stress resistance simulations
  • Co-simulation with 1D system simulation tools

Learn more in this overview video.

Why use full-scale CFD simulation for marine applications?

Testing ship designs at model scale increases the uncertainty of the predictions. The results need to be scaled up to predict actual performance, and the empirical relationships used for this can introduce inaccuracies. CFD modeling can be performed at full-scale, removing the need for scaling of results. In addition, simulating at full-scale ensures that boundary layer effects are correctly captured, similarly that propeller performance is accurately predicted. Learn more about the benefits of full-scale CFD simulation for marine applications in this white paper.

Using marine CFD software enables naval architects and engineers to examine ship performance at full scale and under realistic operating conditions. The latest developments in automation mean designs can be tested in hours making it easy to explore multiple options and perform design optimization and bring the most efficient design to market.

Solutions for every stage of your ship design process

Our solutions enable you to create a digital twin of your ship, starting from the earliest concept stages, through to final production design and on into operation. We help you achieve your design goals faster by providing a portfolio of solutions for performance prediction, including:

  • Multiphysics CFD simulation
  • Aerodynamics and hydrodynamics simulation
  • 1D system analysis
  • Structural integrity and acoustics predictions
  • Automated exploration and design optimization
  • Intelligent reporting and data analytics

Our solutions include software, physical testing, and engineering services, enabling you to meet and exceed efficiency requirements. Use these solutions as part of your complete product lifecycle management system.