Academics from Cranfield University have received funding as part of the Transport Research and Innovation Grants (TRIG) from the Department for Transport to develop a new form of wave-devouring propulsion (WDP) that could power ships and help to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime industry.
The wave energy propulsion concept is being designed to achieve a greater thrust from the power of the waves by harnessing a vessel’s submerged flapping foils in a new way. Taking inspiration from the power of a whale’s fins, the team studied the structure and movement of the tail fin to unravel how it effectively uses wave energy for propulsion. Through simulations and experiments, they developed and integrated a simplified version of the whale’s tail fin action into a ship’s power system.
WDP technology offers a range of benefits, making it a compelling solution for the marine industry. The researchers assert that it will not only reduce fuel costs but will also improve marine craft propulsion. This green technology could find applications in small, unmanned vessels and can be integrated into hybrid propulsion systems, including those powered by electricity, hydrogen or fossil fuels. It also has the potential to achieve carbon reduction targets and contribute to the sustainable development goals of the shipping industry.
Dr Liang Yang, lecturer in marine renewable energy systems at Cranfield University, led the research and said, “WDP could act as a transformative force in maritime sustainability. Our research pioneers a novel approach to propel ships using the boundless energy of waves. We’re not just reducing emissions; we’re navigating toward a future where carbon reduction targets are met, and the shipping industry aligns with sustainable development goals.”
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