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Tubercle-assisted propellers (TAPs): engineering inspired by the nature

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

RESHIP will further knowledge and develop technology around TAPs to widen the application for marine and inland vessels with energy saving, cavitation limitation and noise mitigation features

Tubercle-Assisted Propeller (TAP) technology is based on a novel and generic biomimetic passive flow control mechanism inspired by the humpback whales, which have small bumps on their pectoral fins known as leading-edge (LE) tubercles which aid in its ability to performance acrobatic manoeuvres to catch prey.

"TAPs technology is a generic technology which can be applied on to both open and ducted propellers , which is suitable to be applied both on marine and inland transport vessels."

The concept is initially believed to be able to control flow separation due to energised flow to be more attached to the surface. But recently through detailed

aerodynamics, aeroacoustics and hydrodynamics studies, this concept has shown further capabilities in improving aero/hydrodynamic performance of a range of applications, constrain cavitation development and mitigate the noise.

However, until now the application on marine propulsors has not been studied in-depth, where improving energy efficiency, reducing ship fuel consumption and carbon emissions is a principal area of consideration amongst the design of future marine vessels as well as exploring retrofit solutions for existing builds. Furthermore, the feasibility and the potential to be applied on hydrogen powered vessels has not been reached.

More recently, researchers at UoS have attempted to investigate the application in-depth on marine propulsors, driving the initial design, optimisation and analysis phase and developing the concept on both duct and propeller applications (Stark and Shi, 2021a; Stark and Shi, 2021b; Stark and Shi, 2021c; Stark et al., 2021). Initial findings have been encouraging which have led to the two patent applications being filed in both the UK and Europe alongside an

industrial collaborator.


Stark, C., W. Shi and M. Troll (2021). "Cavitation tunnel effect: bio-inspired leading-edge tubercle application on ducted marine propeller blades." Applied Ocean Research.

Stark, C. and Shi, W., (2021a). "The influence of leading-edge tubercles on the sheet cavitation development of a benchmark marine propeller". In 40th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering: OMAE 2021.

Stark, C. and Shi, W., (2021b). "The influence of leading-edge tubercles on the hydrodynamic performance and propeller wake flow development of a ducted propeller". 31st (2021) InternationalOcean and Polar Engineering Conference: ISOPE-2021

Stark, C. and Shi, W., (2021c). "Hydroacoustic and hydrodynamic investigation of bio-inspired leading-edge tubercles on marine ducted thrusters". Royal Society Open Science

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