The overall objective of the joint project “FlaBi” is to increase the resilience of inland vessels during pronounced periods of drought by extending their operational limits. To achieve this goal, three project partners are developing innovative ship designs with suitable propulsion systems in combination with lightweight structures. The new concepts will be concretized for the requirements of the Rhine and Elbe river at extreme low water levels. In addition, a retrofit concept for propulsion and steering devices will be developed for the existing fleet, which will improve suitability for extreme low-water conditions.
The propeller manufacturer J.M. Voith SE & Co. KG and University of Duisburg-Essen are project partners. Major shipping companies in inland navigation, the associations BDB, VBW and the shipyard SET Tangermünde support the project as associated partners.
In the sub-project “FlaBiTec”, DST is investigating three different propulsion concepts, a 2nd generation blade-chain drive, a modified paddle wheel drive and the conventional ducted propeller with regard to their operational limits. The appropriate integration of the propulsors into the ship’s hull represents a major challenge. In addition to different propulsors, design measures to reduce the lightweight are also being investigated. The technical developments will be suitably combined in dedicated ship designs. Subsequent model tests serve to identify the operational limits of the designed ships and enable a comparison with existing ships.
A further goal is the extension of numerical methods in order to enable a better prediction of the operational limits under extreme conditions at the early ship design stage.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding the project as part of the “Maritime Research Programme” under the funding reference 03SX532A.