In the preliminary design of a propulsion unit the selection of propeller diameter is most commonly based on open water tests of systematic propeller series. The optimum diameter obtained from the propeller series data is however not considered to be representative for the operating conditions behind the ship, instead a slightly smaller diameter is often selected. We have used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to study a 120m cargo vessel with an integrated rudder bulb-propeller hubcap system and a 4-bladed propeller series, to increase our understanding of the hydrodynamic effects influencing the optimum. The results indicate that a 3-4 % smaller diameter is optimal in behind conditions in relation to open water conditions at the same scale factor. The reason is that smaller, higher loaded propellers perform better together with a rudder system. This requires that the gain in transverse kinetic energy losses thanks to the rudder overcomes the increase in viscous losses in the complete propulsion system.

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