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‘VIRTUE’ paves the way to improved marine hydrodynamics services

The EU-funded VIRTUE project, launched in January 2005, aims to improve and integrate state-of-the-art, Computational Fluid Dynamics tools in a comprehensive ship behaviour simulation environment.

Tanker on river
Tanker on river
© Peter Gutierrez

Coordinated by Hamburgische Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt (HSVA), the VIRTUE project (Virtual Tank Utility in Europe) brings together Europe’s leading ship model basin specialists, from academia, the research community and industry.

VIRTUE vocabulary:

A ship model basin is a physical basin or tank used to carry out hydrodynamic tests with ship models and propulsors.

Ambitious goals

Over the next four years, VIRTUE will develop new and improved components and software tools to deliver concise and comprehensive numerical analysis of marine hydrodynamic behaviour. Ultimately, VIRTUE partners aim to significantly increase the competitiveness of the EU shipbuilding and ship design industries, by boosting the range and quality of services offered by hydrodynamics service providers as well as their R&D capacity.

VIRTUE vocabulary:

The term Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) refers to the use of computers and numerical models to analyse the physical behaviour of fluids, with particular reference to properties such as velocity, pressure, density, and temperature.

CFD simulation
CFD simulation

VIRTUE coordinators say modern and integrated CFD tools will allow complete analysis and optimisation of hydrodynamic performance of new ships and thus lead to unrivalled product quality and reduced lead times. This will be achieved via two principle lines of development:

- First, significant effort will be devoted to the improvement of CFD tool accuracy and flexibility. This will mean better and more reliable CFD predictions in all areas of interest, closing the current ‘quality gap’ between numerical and experimental investigations.

- Second, VIRTUE will target the integration of disparate tools into a common, state-of-the-art platform, providing improved communication between numerical tools and other sources. With the addition of formal optimisation tools the integration platform will provide a true means for complete, multi criteria optimisation of novel designs.

Project Structure

To meet its objectives, VIRTUE is addressing all areas of relevance to the modelling and analysis of marine hydrodynamics. Specifically, the project is using four different types of virtual tanks, traditionally reflecting the prime aspects of hydrodynamic analysis in ship design. VIRTUE CFD work packages include:

  • The Virtual Towing Tank;
  • The Virtual Seakeeping Tank;
  • The Virtual Manoeuvring Tank;
  • The Virtual Cavitation Tank/Tunnel.

The results of these activities will be assembled in a fifth work package – The Integration Platform.

VIRTUE vocabulary:

Cavitation is the phenomenon whereby small cavities of partial vacuum form in fluid under the influence of low pressure, then rapidly collapse, producing a sharp sound. It occurs in pumps, impellors, and in the vascular tissues of plants. In marine transport, cavitation influence on propellers and hull appendages is of prime importance for overall vessel performance.

Since its kick-off meeting, held in Hamburg on 18 January 2005, VIRTUE has defined common development lines and has established a suite of joint test cases for future validation of CFD results.

In addition to the direct project partners, a group of leading maritime industrial parties has now been invited to participate in the project’s Advisory Panel. Here, shipyards, operators, propulsion and equipment manufacturers will assist the project’s steering group.