During his master thesis, John Martin worked on design and experimental and theoretical studies of a biomimetic ship propulsion system attempting to replicate swimming motions found in nature. The purpose of his PhD thesis work was originally to develop such a propulsion system with the aim of achieving significantly higher propulsive efficiencies than what is possible with today’s propeller solutions. The first milestones would comprise experimental studies of a series of different motion patterns of a fish-tail-like propulsive device, validation of theoretical models for describing forces on such a system and studies of live creatures exhibiting efficient swimming.
During the PhD-study part of 2017 John Martin has worked on the development of an unsteady
lifting line code for simulation of hydrofoil flight and seakeeping. In short this is a type of code
which can give very fast simulations of unsteady hydrofoil lift and drag, for instance in situations of fluctuating inflow due to waves or oscillations due to vessel motions. An initial validation study towards 2D analytical theory has indicated relatively accurate results. The next step in this context is to run CFD simulations for validation in 3D conditions. Eventually the code will be embedded into a motion and control system simulator framework. The goal is to be able to experiment with different foil system layouts and control system settings and get quantitative data on how this affects seakeeping and added resistance when running in waves.
From PhD student to entrepreneur
During 2017, John Martin engaged in an NTNU Technology Transfer commercialization project entitled Flying Foil. He is now on a 100 % leave from PhD studies to focus on the product development and commercialization part of the Flying Foil project. As a result, his research topic has been modified and is now focusing on more general investigation of the hydrodynamics of hydrofoil vessels.
Flying Foil is a start-up project aiming to develop and commercialize a new generation of hydrofoil vessels for use in passenger transport. The principle of lifting a vessel on hydrofoil has great potential, and current calculations indicate that it might be possible to reduce the energy requirement of a 35 knot fast ferry by more than 30 % as compared to the best conventional vessels of today. This translates to more lightweight machinery and energy storage and thereby a positive design loop yielding further reductions of power requirement.
During the year we have established a collaboration with Norway’s leading fast ferry shipyard, Brødrene Aa, with the aim of building a fully electric 7 meter prototype vessel of our current hydrofoil design. This will be a combined development/learning and demonstration project, in which we hope to get a confirmation of simulated energy requirement and to learn more about construction methods and flight control systems. Norges Forskningsråd is supporting this prototype project through the «Forskningsbasert Nyskaping (FORNY)»-grant, which will keep the commercialization project running for approximately 1.5–2 years. Several of the Norwegian county administrations, which purchase public ocean transport, have shown interest in our project.