Using Single Propeller Performance Data to Predict Counter-Rotating Propeller Performance for a High Speed Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

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Virginia Tech


The use of counter-rotating propellers is often desirable for aerospace and ocean engineering applications. Counter-rotating propellers offer higher peak efficiencies, better off-design performance, and roll control capabilities. But counter-rotating propeller matching is a difficult and complex procedure. Although much research has been done on the design of optimal counter-rotating propeller sets, there has been less focus on predicting the performance of unmatched counter-rotating sets. In this study, it was desired to use off-the-shelf marine propellers to make a counter-rotating pair for a high speed autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Counter-rotating propellers were needed to provide roll control for the AUV. Pre-existing counter-rotating propeller design methods were not applicable because they all require inputs of complex propeller blade geometries. These geometries are rarely known for off-the-shelf propellers.

This study proposes a new method for predicting the counter-rotating performance of unmatched propeller sets. It is suggested here that propeller performance curves can be used to predict counter-rotating thrust and torque performance.

Propeller performance tests were run in the Virginia Tech Water Tunnel for a variety of small, off-the shelf propellers. The collected data was used to generate the propeller performance curves. The propellers were then paired up and tested as counter-rotating sets. A momentum theory based model was formulated that predicted counter-rotating performance using the propeller performance data. The counter-rotating data was used to determine the effectiveness of the method.

A solution was found that successfully predicted the counter-rotating performance of all of the tested propeller sets using six interaction coefficients. The optimal values of these coefficients were used to write two counter-rotating performance prediction programs. The first program takes the forward and aft RPMs and the flow speed as inputs, and predicts the generated thrust and torque. The second program takes the flow speed and the desired thrust as inputs and calculates the forward and aft RPM values that will generate the desired thrust while producing zero torque. The second program was used to determine the optimal counter-rotating set for the HSAUV.



propeller, counter-rotating, AUV