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THE SECOND CHESAPEAKE POWER BOAT

SYMPOSIUM
ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND, MARCH 2010

Use of Commercial CFD Codes to Enhance Performance Prediction Capabilities


for Planing Boats
John Scherer, S.K.R. Patil, Scott Morton, Mercury Marine, Fond du Lac, WI

ABSTRACT
Commercial CFD codes have become common tools for
evaluating hydrodynamic performance of marine
components such as propellers and appendages. The codes
have traditionally been limited to submerged, single-phase
flow and displacement vessels. New modeling capabilities
within these codes have extended their potential
application to free surface problems and cavitating or
ventilated flows. Mercury Marine has been evaluating the
use of these codes for analyzing planing boat performance
with the inclusion of appendages, propellers,
tabs/interceptors, and their interactions. Validation cases
and results of this investigation will be presented with
recommendations for the application of these codes.

g ........................................ Acceleration of gravity


J V ND .................... Advance coefficient

K Fz Fz N 2 D 4 ...... Vertical force coefficient


K Q Q N 2 D 5 ......... Torque coefficient
KT T N 2 D 4 .......... Thrust coefficient
L........................................ Boat wetted length
N ....................................... Propeller speed (rev/sec)
Q ....................................... Propeller torque
R ....................................... Resistance
T ....................................... Propeller thrust
V ....................................... Boat speed
W ...................................... Boat weight
L b ....................... Wetted length ratio
........................................ Water density
.................................. Boat trim angle (deg)

NOTATION
b ........................................ Boat chine beam
D ....................................... Propeller diameter
Fd

g (W )1 3 .. Displacement Froude number

Fz ...................................... Propeller force normal to shaft


in the upward direction
Scherer/Patil/Morton

INTRODUCTION
This paper presents recent work at Mercury Marine using
commercial CFD software to perform marine
hydrodynamics analysis. The goal is to find situations
where CFD is an efficient way to quantify performance,
compared to traditional model testing in towing tanks and
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water tunnels or full-scale on-water testing. We have been


running three such codes, ANSYS Fluent, ANSYS CFX,
and STAR CCM+ all of which are extremely versatile and
capable products.
Recently there have been modeling enhancements to these
codes which make them more suitable for boat
hydrodynamics.
This, along with the continuing
advancement in computational power mean many types of
more advanced simulations are now available to the
commercial user.

ISOLATED COMPONENTS
Single Open Water Propeller - P5168
To develop a propeller modeling methodology the Navy
propeller P5168 was selected due to availability of water
tunnel data reported by Chesnakas and Jessup 1. There are
also previously published CFD analysis of this propeller,
including Rhee and Joshi2 and Morgut and Nobile3.
A rendering of the propeller can be seen in Figure 1. The
model is five bladed, has a diameter of 403 mm and design
advance coefficient of 1.27.
Several meshes were run as part of a sensitivity study and
the mesh shown in Figure 2 was chosen as a good
compromise between calculation speed and solution
accuracy. The volume mesh has 0.5M polyhedral cells
with prism layers on the blade surfaces. Run time for one
operating point on a cluster of 4 processors is 40 minutes.
Rotational periodicity was not used in this analysis since
this approach will be carried into non-axisymmetric
simulations.

Figure 2. STAR CCM+ 5850 element Surface mesh for 0.5M


polyhedral cell mesh

Solutions at four advance coefficients are shown in Figure


3. Thrust and torque are nominally within 10% of test
except at the highest J value. Since normal operation will
be at J values near, or below, peak efficiency this is
acceptable to us. In general CFD seems to over-predict
propeller thrust and torque. Results within 5% are
achievable using periodicity (only meshing one blade) and
using something like 2M cells.
1.0
KT- Test

0.9

KT-CFD
10KQ-Test

0.8

10KQ-CFD
Efficiency-Test

0.7

KT, 10KQ, Efficiency

In particular, the ability to model the free surface (airwater interface), cavitation, and motion provide new
opportunities for vessel simulation. This paper presents an
array of analyses progressing from individual component
to multi-component models with a large degree of
interaction.
Wherever possible, validation data is
provided. Some analysis are more exploratory in nature.
As much detail as possible is provided while being
considerate of the proprietary nature of some of the
designs.

Efficiency-CFD

0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0.0
0.9

1.0

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

Figure 3. Comparison of CFD and test values for P5168

Figure 1. Propeller P5168

Scherer/Patil/Morton

Gearcase
The use of CFD for fully wetted marine appendages is well
accepted. A more difficult situation exists when the
appendage pierces the water surface such as in an outboard
or sterndrive gearcase. In this situation the free surface
must be modeled to get realistic pressures on the external
surfaces, and hence hydrodynamic forces. The free
surface modeling capabilities of commercial CFD codes
has progressed to the point where they are now viable for
this task.
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Results from the analysis of a typical large outboard


gearcase are presented here. Full scale testing and CFD
both reveal a drag coefficient of about 0.040 based on side
projected area. Lift and side-force are obtained from the
CFD calculation as well.
Cavitation is predicted reasonably well.
Figure 4
compares the calculated and observed cavitation patterns
on an outboard gearcase at 70 mph. In the photo the
gearcase is running elevated so that the free surface is
down near the top of the torpedo whereas the CFD solution
has the gearcase fully submerged. There is, however,
cavitation visible on the shoulder of the torpedo in the
photo that matches up well with the calculations.

Figure 5. Picture of towing tank test for CFD validation case

We have had good success running this type of problem


using both ANSYSs CFX package and STAR CCM+.
These codes implement an efficient rigid body motion
method where the hull is in a rotating cylinder that
provides pitch motion. As the solution progresses, the free
surface is shifted vertically relative to the mesh to control
heave and crosses transparently through the rotating
cylinder. The mesh regions and detail of the mesh near the
hull can be seen in Figure 6 and Figure 7.
Half-symmetry is taken advantage of with a typical mesh
for a well resolved free surface being 2M cells. Run time
is typically 10-20 hrs per operating point on 16 processors
so that a sweep over the speed range can be conducted in a
week. Coarser meshes of .25-.5M cells are useful for
studying component interactions or transient effects at
reduced accuracy.

Figure 4. Cavitation pattern comparison between CFD and


underwater photo for an outboard gearcase at 70 mph

Planing Hull
Computational analysis of planing hulls requires modeling
the free surface and its interaction with the hull. This
capability is relatively recent in commercial CFD codes
and has become more user friendly in the latest
revisions. It is now possible to do free-running analysis
including rigid-body motion with multiple degrees of
freedom. Here we are primarily interested in solving for
resistance, pitch and heave for straight ahead running.

Figure 6. Mesh regions for planing hull analysis

Planing hull validation was done by comparing CFD


analysis with bare hull towing tank test data (test underway
in Figure 5). The hull chosen is a typical recreational
cruiser powered by pod drives.

Scherer/Patil/Morton

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7.0
6.0

(deg)

5.0
4.0
3.0

Tow Tank
CFD

2.0

Figure 7. Mesh near hull showing hex band for capturing


free surface and interface between rotating and stationary
domains

Comparisons between test and CFD results can be found in


Figure 8 through Figure 11. The agreement is generally
very good.

1.0
0.0
0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0
Fd

2.5

3.0

3.5

4.0

Figure 9. Hull trim angle comparison between test and CFD

Figure 8 shows that with a mesh size of 1.9 million cells,


hull resistance is quite close to the test data with the largest
error at higher speeds. It is thought that spray drag, which
is not captured well with the CFD free surface models, is
the cause. Smaller meshes are less accurate but are useful
for reducing computation time for transient or complex
problems.
Trim angle is plotted in Figure 9. The agreement between
CFD and test values is quite good although trim is slightly
over-predicted by CFD at higher speeds.
A comparison underwater view of the wetted surfaces in
the test and CFD models can be seen in Figure 10. Wetted
keel length is predicted very well at all speeds, while
wetted chine length is slightly over-predicted as can be
seen in Figure 11.
These results, and the work of other researchers4, provide
confidence that planing hull performance can be accurately
predicted with CFD.
0.25

Figure 10. Hull wetted surface comparison between test and


CFD at 40 mph full scale speed

0.20
3.5

R/W

0.15

3.0

0.10

Tow Tank

2.5

1.9M Cells + Prisms


0.55M Cells, No Prisms

0.05

2.0

0.12M Cells, No Prisms

1.5

0.00
0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0
Fd

2.5

3.0

3.5

4.0

Figure 8. Hull resistance comparison for various mesh sizes

1.0

k, Test

k, CFD

0.5

c, Test

c, CFD

0.0
0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0
Fd

2.5

3.0

3.5

4.0

Figure 11. Hull wetted keel and chine length comparison


between test and CFD (1.9M Cells)

Scherer/Patil/Morton

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INTERACTION EXAMPLES
CR Open Water Propeller
Many current drive systems of interest involve the use of
counter-rotating (CR) propellers. These propellers can
have significant interactions between front and rear
propeller blades. An analysis was performed on the
propeller set seen in Figure 12 to develop a methodology
for CR propellers in general.

cells. The solution can be found for two modes, steady


MRF (moving reference frame), and unsteady. The steady
MRF mode runs much faster since only a steady state
solution is found, but it relies on circumferential averaging
of fluid variables at the interface between the front and
rear propellers.
In unsteady mode, blade-to-blade
interactions are captured as the flow field from the forward
propeller is convected through the sliding interface
between propellers and the two propellers can interact with
each other. Run time to quasi-steady state is about 5 hours
on 8 processors per operating point.
A comparison of the propeller performance in steady MRF
and unsteady modes is shown in Figure 14. The unsteady
thrust and torque, averaged over one revolution, are higher
than the steady values, indicating there are significant
interaction effects between the propellers that must be
included if accurate results are desired. Based on the open
water single propeller validation case, these results are
expected to be accurate to within 10%.

Figure 12.
analysis

Counter-rotating propeller set for open-water

The two CFD codes we have used also include cavitation


modeling. The cavitation models are relatively new to
CFD and we have not done a systematic validation of the
model, but the general cavity size and locations appear to
be as expected. With these models turned on, the vapor
fraction is tracked throughout the flow-field as it interacts
with the pressure field. The resulting characteristic curves,
including cavitation, for = 0.81, can be found compared
to the unsteady non-cavitating results, in Figure 15.
The cavitating thrust and torque are below the noncavitating values but drop off drastically below J = 1.1.
We know, from boat testing, that this is roughly correct.
2.0
KT-Transient
KT-Steady
KQ-Transient
KQ-Steady
Efficiency-Transient
Efficiency-Steady

1.8

KT, 10*KQ, Efficiency

1.6
1.4
1.2
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0.0
0.7

0.8

0.9

1.0

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

Figure 14. CR propeller set steady vs. Unsteady propeller


characteristics

Rota
Mesh

Figure 13. Mesh zones for CFD analysis

As shown
individual
respective
embedded

in Figure 13, these propellers are modeled in


sliding mesh zones which rotate at their
speeds and directions.
These zones are
in a larger flow domain. The mesh has 1M

Scherer/Patil/Morton

Page 5 of 9

2.0

1.4

(Instantaneous Value)/(Average Value)

1.6

KT, 10*KQ, Efficiency

1.15

KT
KT-Cavitating
KQ
KQ-Cavitating
Efficiency
Efficiency-Cavitating

1.8

1.2
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2

Rear - Thrust
Front - Thrust
Front - Torque
Rear - Torque

1.10
1.05
1.00
0.95
0.90
0.85

0.0

0.7

0.8

0.9

1.0

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

30

60

90

Also of interest are the unsteady forces on the propeller


and on the individual blades. Figure 16 shows the net lift
and side-force components on the combined propeller
system (front and rear propellers together) as a fraction of
total thrust. These forces are about 5% of mean thrust
with seven interactions per revolution. It is important to
note that over one rotation, both propellers rotate so that
the blade interactions happen twice as fast as if only one
propeller was moving.
Thrust and torque variation over one revolution are shown
in Figure 17. The variation is quite small being roughly
2% of the mean. When individual blades on the front and
rear propellers are considered, the variation is much larger
as shown in Figure 18. These forces are 10% of their
individual average values.

1.15
1.10
1.05
1.00
0.95
0.90
0.85
0

30

60

90

120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360

Angular Position (deg)

Front Blade - Thrust


Rear Blade - Thrust

Front Blade - Torque


Rear Blade - Torque

Figure 18. Unsteady forces for individual blades on front and


rear propellers

0.15

Net Lift
Net Sideforce

0.10

(Value)/(Average Thrust)

Figure 17. Unsteady forces for front and rear propellers at J


= 1.2

(Value)/(Average Value)

Figure 15. CR propeller set characteristic curves from CFD


analysis. For cavitating flow, = 0.81

120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360


Angular Position (deg)

Propeller/Pod/Hull Interaction
One of the most exciting prospects for CFD is to use it to
understand complex interactions between components.
One such system is a pod propulsion system installed in a
tunnel on a planing boat. An attempt has been made here
to analyze this system using CFD with some
simplifications. For this analysis, boat speed is set at 35
mph and the trim angle is fixed at 4.5 degrees.

0.05

0.00

-0.05

-0.10

-0.15

30

60

90

120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360


Angular Position (deg)

Figure 16. Net lift and side-force on propeller set over one
rotation as a fraction of average thrust.

Scherer/Patil/Morton

The key simplification is to exclude the free surface, and


fix the hull at an estimated pitch and heave position with a
solid slip wall at the undisturbed free surface location. The
underwater geometry for this model is shown in Figure 19.
In order to provide room for the propeller slip stream to
develop, the computational domain is extended aft, behind
the transom, as shown in Figure 20. The static pressure at
the domain outlet is set to zero. This means there will be
some error in the pressure distribution on the planing
surface caused by improper boundary conditions near the
perimeter.
However, this simplification significantly
reduces the run time for the solutions and allows many
Page 6 of 9

more cases to be run. Since we are concerned mainly with


evaluating the relative influence of features like tunnel
angle and propeller loading, this is deemed a reasonable
compromise.

Figure 21. CFD mesh in the region of the pod system

These solutions provide enormous quantities of data and


can be mined for results of interest. Some of these are
reported here.
Figure 19.
propellers

Submerged geometry for hull with pod and

Propeller performance, averaged over a full rotation, is


shown in Figure 22. For comparison, the open water data
is provided. In general, the thrust, torque, and efficiency
are higher than in the open water case. This makes sense
considering the advance coefficients are based on boat
speed for all cases and that the local speed at the propeller
is somewhat reduced by the influence of the hull and pod.

The mesh for this model (half-symmetry) is 0.65M


polyhedral cells. A cut through the mesh near the pod
system is shown in Figure 21. This mesh size was chosen
to provide mesh density near the propeller, similar to the
open-water analysis with 0.5M cells. This is a fully
unsteady solution with results captured at 3 deg increments
of propeller rotation. Solution time per operating point is
about 6 hours on 8 processors which includes several
revolutions to establish the flow field, followed by another
revolution to capture data.
Scherer/Patil/Morton

1.0

0.20

0.9

0.18

0.8

0.16

0.7

0.14

0.6

0.12

0.5

0.10

0.4

0.08

0.3

0.06

0.2

0.04

0.1

0.02

0.0

KQ, KFz

Figure 20. CFD domain for hull/pod/propeller model

KT, Efficiency

Since the propellers are now operating in a complex three


dimensional flow field, there are significant forces
generated other than thrust and torque. One such force is
the normal propeller force, Fz, plotted in Figure 22, which
will influence the running trim angle of the boat. Because
it is normal to the propeller shaft, this force does not
include the vertical component of thrust, which also
produces trimming moments on the boat. From Figure 22
it can be seen that for the relatively mild shaft angles used
here, the normal force components ranges from 5-10% of
the thrust. These values are consistent with the theory for
propellers on inclined shafts.

0.00
0.7

0.8

KT: 0 Deg
Eff. 0 Deg
KQ: 0 Deg
KFz: 0 Deg

0.9

1.0
KT: 3 Deg
Eff. 3 Deg
KQ: 3 Deg
KFz: 3 Deg

1.1
J

1.2
KT: 6 Deg
Eff. 6 Deg
KQ: 6 Deg
KFz: 6 Deg

1.3

1.4

1.5

KT: Open Water


Eff. Open Water
KQ: Open Water

Figure 22. Non-cavitating propeller performance for various


tunnel/shaft angles (averaged over one rotation)

Page 7 of 9

The front propeller, in particular, sees thrust varying about


65% around the mean, and torque varying 50%. This
is an important finding for blade structural design.

1.4
Force/(Avg Thrust), Moment/(Avg Torque)

As with the open water case, propeller forces can be


examined versus blade rotation angle. In Figure 23
individual blade thrust and torque are plotted versus
angular position. The variation is much greater than in the
open water case since now there is a strut wake and
inclined flow involved.

1.8

0.6
Thrust

Lift

60

90

Sideforce

Torque

Pitching Moment

Yaw Moment

0.4
0.2
0.0
-0.2
-0.4
30

120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360

Relative Angular Position (deg)

1.4

Figure 25. Rear propeller loads vs. angular position when


running on the pod/hull system.
Propeller centered
coordinate system
Front blade behind strut

1.0
0.8

0.4
0.2
0

30

60

90 120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360


Relative Angular Position (deg)

Figure 23. Front and rear individual propeller blade loads


vs. angular position when running on the pod/hull system.
Note the angular position when each blade is oriented
vertically behind the gearcase strut.

It was mentioned earlier, that the effect of tunnel angle is


of interest. Some understanding of this effect can be
gained by comparing hull lift with the tunnel at 3 and 6
degrees with the hull lift with the tunnel at 0 degrees.
Using data shown in Figure 26 (green curves with circle
symbols) and subtracting the lift contributions from the
propellers and pods, the hull lift is obtained.
For this particular tunnel geometry, the effect of tunnel
angle on the hull can be characterized by a lift coefficient
based on propeller disc area of 0.18/deg applied 1.4
propeller diameters ahead of the transom.

L/W, Rnet/W

Unsteady forces for the complete propellers are more mild


since the out-of-phase contributions from individual blades
are combined. Figure 24 shows all six forces and moments
for the front propeller and Figure 25 shows these for the
rear propeller.
1.4
1.2
1.0

1.5

1.50

1.0

1.25

0.5

1.00

0.0

0.75
L/W: 0 Deg
L/W: 3 Deg
L/W: 6 Deg
Rnet/W: 0 Deg
Rnet/W: 3 Deg
Rnet/W: 6 Deg
M/(Wb): 0 Deg
M/(Wb): 3 Deg
M/(Wb): 6 Deg

0.8
Thrust

0.6

Lift

Sideforce

Torque

Pitching Moment

Yaw Moment

-0.5

0.4

0.50

-1.0

0.2

0.25
0.7

0.0

M/(W*b)

1.2

Rear blade behind strut

T/(Avg T), Q/(Avg Q)

0.8

0.6

Force/(Avg Thrust), Moment/(Avg Torque)

1.0

-0.6

Front Prop, Blade 1 - Thrust


Rear Prop, Blade 1 -Thrust
Front Prop, Blade 1 - Torque
Rear Prop, Blade 1 - Torque

1.6

1.2

0.8

0.9

1.0

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

Figure 26. Net forces on the boat (hull/pod/propeller system)


vs. propeller advance coefficient. Normalized by weight.
When resistance = 0, the boat is at steady state

-0.2
-0.4
-0.6
0

30

60

90

120

150

180 210

240

270

300 330

360

Relative Angular Position (deg)

Figure 24. Front propeller loads vs. angular position when


running on the pod/hull system.
Propeller centered
coordinate system.

Scherer/Patil/Morton

Page 8 of 9

1.4
1.2
1.0

L/W

0.8
Hull: 0 Deg
Hull: 3 Deg
Hull: 6 Deg
Gearcase: 0 Deg
Gearcase: 3 Deg
Gearcase: 6 Deg
Prop: 0 Deg
Prop: 3 Deg
Prop: 6 Deg

0.6
0.4
0.2
0.0
0.7

0.8

0.9

1.0

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

Figure 27. Lift contribution of hull, propellers, and gearcase


versus advance coefficient. Normalized by boat weight.

CONCLUSIONS
Many capabilities exist within current commercially
available CFD codes that are useful for analyzing
powerboat performance. Robust free surface (multiphase)
and cavitation models are particularly helpful recent
additions. Fairly modest computer clusters can now
provide results for complex geometries, component
interactions, and unsteady behavior.

REFERENCES
1

Chesnakas, C. and Jessup, S., Experimental


Characterization of Propeller Tip Flow, Proc. 22nd
Symposium on Naval Hydrodynamics, Washington, D.C.,
1998.
2
Rhee, S. H. and Joshi, S., CFD Validation for a Marine
Propeller Using an Unstructured Mesh Based RANS
Method, Fluent, Inc. Technical Note TN213, September
2003.
3

Morgut, M. and Nobile, E., Comparison of HexaStructured and Hybrid-Unstructured Meshing Approaches
for Numerical Prediction of the Flow Around Marine
Propellers, First International Symposium on Marine
Propulsors, Trondheim, Norway, June 2009.
4

Azcueta, R. and Rousselon, N., CFD Applied to Super


and Mega Yacht Design, Design, Construction and
Operation of Super and Mega Yachts Conference, April
2009, Genova, Italy.

Scherer/Patil/Morton

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