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Public Policy|Southampton

A blog from the winner of the 2020 UK Maritime Masters Award

Andrea Chipolina
Andrea Chipolina

I have recently completed a Master’s degree in maritime engineering at the University of Southampton, specializing in computational fluid dynamics (CFD). I feel honoured to have finalized my MSc program as the 2020 UK Maritime Masters Award winner, having competed against eight universities during a live conference. Each student presented their final MSc projects to the audience, intending to encourage the collaboration between academia and industry. This opportunity allowed me to enhance my presentation skills and share my thoughts on the need to invest in innovative zero-emissions marine designs.

Prior to my MSc program, I graduated from Solent University with a BEng Yacht and Powercraft Design First Honours Degree. During my second-year summer period, I completed a two-month internship at Vectis Marine Design. Where I had the opportunity to work alongside experienced engineers and naval architects that guided me through common industry practices. My undergraduate and work experience developed my passion for resistance and propulsion of marine vehicles and fluid dynamics.

The current urgency to reduce environmental impact has triggered an interest in the use of renewable energy. However, wave energy is yet to be exploited to its full potential. Attracting my attention towards the use of wave energy as a method of propulsion for autonomous vehicles (ASV). University of Southampton has given me the opportunity to investigate the use of wave propelled flapping foils in tandem as a marine propulsion system. An innovative zero-emissions design that could revolutionize the way we transport goods and travel the globe. A great example of these ASVs are AutoNaut’s 3.5 and 5.0 vessels.

The MSc project itself specifically focuses on pitch induced wave propelled vehicles, having two flapping foils in tandem. The aim of the project is an evaluation of foil performance completing a simplified numerical simulation and a CFD analysis, with the use of Python Jupyter Notebook and Ansys Fluent respectively. The foils can be set at different spacings and can operate in a range of wave frequencies. Three flow components are analysed, these being; forward foil wake, wave orbital motion, and uniform flow (forward vessel speed). Resulting in a combined flow encountered by the aft foil. The effect of wave frequency and foil spacing on foil performance is investigated including foil thrust plots and velocity magnitude vector/contour plots.

Results obtained show lower thrust generation by the aft foil due to a lower effective angle of attack, caused by forward foil wake and vessel pitch motion. However, an improvement is obtained as foil spacing is increased. Furthermore, velocity magnitude contour plots show that foil interaction can be considered negligible at high foil spacings. Suggesting that the problem can be simplified further with the use of potential flow design tools.

I believe marine vehicles mark the origin and future of global transportation, additionally inspiring other sectors such as the design and construction of aircraft and floating architecture. Maritime engineering studies involve a combination of disciplines, additionally requiring extensive use of computational technology, which most industries currently depend on. The outcome being students graduating specialized in marine engineering but also highly prepared for a vast range of job opportunities in other sectors.


Andrea Chipolina, MSc Maritime Computational Fluid Dynamics, University of Southampton



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