The influence of leading-edge tubercles on the sheet cavitation development of a benchmark marine propeller

Callum Stark, Weichao Shi

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Cavitation is an undesirable phenomenon in the maritime industry as it causes damage to the propeller, degrading hydrodynamic performance and increasing the subsequent underwater radiated noise (URN). Therefore, mitigating cavitation on marine propellers is an important area of research in order to reduce carbon emissions emitted from the shipping industry and reduce the rate at which ocean ambient noise levels are increasing. The Humpback whale has provided inspiration to research in the fluid-structure interaction field due to the presence of leading-edge (LE) tubercles on the pectoral fins that allow it to perform acrobatic maneuvers to catch prey. This paper assesses the cavitation containment capability of the LE tubercles on a benchmark marine propeller in both heavy and light cavitating conditions using commercial code STARCCM+, unsteady incompressible Reynolds-averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) solver and the Schnerr-Sauer cavitation model to quantify the sheet cavitation present over a range of operating conditions. In summary, in heavy-cavitating conditions, a reduction in sheet cavitation with the inclusion of LE tubercles was observed to a maximum value of 2.75% in all operating conditions considered. A maximum improvement of 3.51% and 1.07% was predicted in propulsive thrust and hydrodynamic efficiency, respectively. In light cavitating conditions, although in some conditions a reduction in cavity volume was observed, this did not result in an improvement in hydrodynamic performance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021
Event40th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering: OMAE 2021 - Online
Duration: 21 Jun 202130 Jun 2021


Conference40th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering
Internet address


  • leading-edge tubercles
  • marine propeller
  • cavitation
  • biomimetics
  • CFD


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