EcoClipper, a Dutch start-up working to develop a fleet of zero-emission sailing freighters, is using 21st century technology to perfect wind propulsion to provide sustainable transport for cargo, passengers and trainees of the whole world. UK-based engineering consultants Cape Horn Engineering are partnering with EcoClipper to apply their computational fluid dynamics expertise to advance modern sailboat design.
Founded in 2018, EcoClipper plans to develop a fleet of vessels that will sail on four shipping lines with fixed schedules, creating a new shipping logistics system for sailboats. The concept provides for the establishment of three regular routes, starting with the Atlantic sailing from the Channel to the United States and the Caribbean. The Pacific route would sail from California to China and Japan, and the most ambitious is a traditional route sailing around the world using westerly winds.
The inspiration and starting point for the design of modern ships was based on the design of the Dutch sailing clipper Noach, launched in 1857 and is said to have been the fastest Dutch sailing ship ever built. The EcoClipper 500 will be constructed of steel using modern construction techniques. According to the company, each ship will be able to carry 500 tonnes of cargo with a crew of 12, 36 trainees and up to 12 passengers.
“The historical archives of Fop Smit Noach are vast, ”says Jorne Langelaan, sail freight expert and founder and CEO of EcoClipper,“ nothing but the design of the historic vessel was built around cargo carrying capabilities and passenger comfort. However, he wishes to test different hull shapes to ensure the best performance of the modern ship. “With the expertise of Cape Horn Engineering, we are able to fine-tune the vessel to ensure that it can sail as fast as possible, while maintaining these necessities.”
CFD simulation for EcoClipper design (Cape Horn Engineering)
Cape Horn Engineering’s expertise is focused on optimizing the design of many composite vessels using its experience in hydrodynamics and its specialization in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Engineers use high-fidelity RANS-based simulation techniques where precise forces and moments are obtained for given shape candidates and operating conditions.
For the EcoShip project, Cape Horn explains that an ambitious R&D program was agreed and that extensive CFD simulations for four different candidate hulls were performed and compared under different sailing conditions to aid the design process. Dr Rodrigo Azcueta, Managing Director of Cape Horn Engineering, explained that CFD technology is a crucial support for naval architects to optimize designs of critical elements such as weight saving, performance forecasting, reduction of emissions and optimization of vessels.
One of the main challenges the engineers faced, Azcueta said, was comparing rather dissimilar hull shape candidates without the aid of a speed prediction program, where all hydroelectric and aerodynamic forces are balanced. . With the EcoClipper 500’s complex sail plan, which consists of three square-rigged masts, a maximum of 29 sails (including stunsails) and a maximum sail area of around 1,580 m2, the generation of a complete aerodynamic model was beyond reach. of the project. Therefore, sail coefficients for similar sailboats found in the literature had to be used, to give a relationship between driving force, lateral force and bank moment, in order to allow precise calculations for the hydrodynamic performance of the boats. hull candidates.
Another detailed investigation aimed to find the best possible position to install the hydrogenerators that will supply the vessel’s electricity needs. Speed maps around the hull were analyzed to find the locations with the most consistent and highest speeds for the best turbine performance.
Using these advanced engineering capabilities, EcoClipper reports that it is further advancing the sustainability of the project. The company’s previous research has shown that the most sustainable way to transport cargo and passengers is to use a traditional ship design, the Clipper ship, with square-rigged sails. EcoClipper has previously indicated that it is looking into the financial market to build its first ship.