The numerical simulation of a four-blade propeller in water tunnel with fixed ice-propeller proximity condition is conducted by RANS solver to investigate the blockage effect on propeller performance. The results suggested that the upstream ice would induce the oscillation of the thrust and torque of the propeller and increase the hydrodynamic loads on the blade with low efficiency. The ice blockage would also influence the inflow of the propeller leading to the cavitation on the blade suction side and the deformation of the vortex structure behind the propeller.
With the continued melting of the polar ice caps, it is possible to open the Arctic sea routes, which could cause a reduction in shipping distance and cost between East Asia and Europe. And the research of icebreaker and high ice-class vessels is on the rise. The ice going vessel needs to have a robust propulsion system because of the complex interaction with surrounding ice floes and ridges. The loading regimes between the propeller and ice includes the contact loads associated with milling the ice, loads resulting from ice impact, and noncontact hydrodynamic loads caused by the ice blockage (Walker et al., 1994).
Laskow et al. (1986) carried out full-scale measurements of the dynamic response in shaft thrust, shaft torque, and other parameters resulting from the ice-propeller interaction. Keinonen et al. (1990), Williams et al. (1992) and Browne (1997) also presents valuable data of full-scale measurements with the background of a joint project arrangement called JPRA6 conducted by Canada and Finland. Considering the cost and efficiency, model-scale test have been conducted in the research of the propeller performance in icy environment. Doucet et al (1996) performed tests with a 200 mm model of propeller of Canadian R-Class ice-breakers behind and inside the recess of a simulated ice blockage at cavitation tunnel, and present the severe cloud cavitation and the erosion. Wang et al. (2007) conducted the model test of podded propulsor to study the ice load on the blade and propeller shaft in the ice tank of the Institute for Ocean Technology. Sampson (2013) performed the depressurised ice milling experimental in Emerson Cavitation Tunnel to investigate the performance changes of the propeller due to depth of cut and the level of cavitation present.