HYDROS : INNOVATION, TECHNOLOGY AND PERFORMANCE
How do you get from a flying boat to a comprehensive energy optimisation method? Jérémie Lagarrigue CEO of Hydros Innovation explains.
In 2010, Hydros* Innovation built a lab boat – the Hydros.ch catamaran – to develop the basic flying boat technology. It is the only boat in the world that has three different methods of travelling. The first is the conventional sailing method, i.e. floating. The second method is gliding, when the boat lifts its hulls and skims over the surface of the water like a speedboat or a sailboard. The third method is flying, where Hydros.ch spreads its foils, its wings on water as it were, which lift the boat and allow it to fly.
“We were able to gather huge amounts of stress data and measurements of all the sailing parameters. We used these data to create optimisation software that now enables us to design extremely powerful and efficient boats,” says Jérémie.
According to Froude’s rule**, a boat’s maximum speed depends on the hull length in the waterline. As an example, for a boat in floating mode of 35 feet (10.80 metres), the top speed is 22 knots. This means that today’s boats need to sail as fast as possible on a straight course for the entire length of the race, with little opportunity to improve their time. With the cutting-edge technology, Hydros Innovation developed on Hydros.ch to improve the speeds that a boat of this length can reach.
FROM THE COMPETITION TO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
“We had a vision of making boats more efficient and went on to make it a reality. We now want to give others the opportunity of using our know-how,” Jérémie adds. “Hydros has turned into a project aimed at leveraging the flying boat technology we have developed for the marine and boating industry as a whole. The tools that we designed specifically for the competition have the potential to optimise and improve the comfort, performance and fuel consumption of merchant ships.”
The Hydros team is currently involved in over 40 design projects globally with a view to optimising sailing performance at two levels – making adjustments to existing boats and designing new boats. To adjust existing boats, the team draws on our specific expertise in flow modelling and use the software that they developed to identify all the adjustments to be made – in terms of currents, weather, load and materials – for a boat to reach the highest possible speed.
“We can adjust the placement of the loads, helm and trim to achieve the best results on each route. In other words, we can adjust the loading of oil tankers and container vessels, by shifting the centre of gravity so as to achieve maximum fuel efficiency,” Jérémie explains. “In the future, port and on-board equipment should allow these adjustments to be made automatically when loading. It is our ambition to lower fuel consumption for maritime transport, which represents 90% of world trade, by 5 to 40%.”
In terms of the construction of new boats, the team has created tools to enhance comfort or increase speed, depending on the priorities set. We have also developed an optimisation simulator to help us improve the vessel design. This allows them to calculate the best upgrades for each parameter – hull shape, loading constraints etc.
“We simulate the changes we could make based on a hundred incremental improvements, deploying the best applications at each step, and fine-tune functionality accordingly. We end up with designs that we would have never imagined, that are far more effective than the architect’s original design.”
NEW CHALLENGES AHEAD
Alongside designing improvements for the maritime industry, Hydros plans to develop further innovations. The Hydros team’s next challenge is to build a boat that almost leaves the water entirely. By making boats fly, they can reduce friction and drag and thus optimise the energy output needed to propel them. For a boat that floats, 20 m2 of its surface is in contact with the water, compared to our prototype in which only 2 m2 of its surface touches the water.
“The potential speed gain is enormous. In fact, with this concept, instead of counteracting sail-heeling forces with a heavy keel or crew weight on the windward side, the boat would in fact be carried by the wind. To steer, we would just get back on the water. With this system, we have a boat that can go almost twice as fast as conventional boats and withstand waves that are over 10 metres high effortlessly.”
Hydros Innovation has also launched the first hybrid flying boat in history – HY-X, a patented prototype that is already in operation. Designed to open up a new era of green yachting, HY-X delivers unmatched performance, cuts down fuel consumption by at least 30% and makes for faster, smoother and more comfortable sailing. “By eliminating the jarring and vibration from waves, we can say goodbye to seasickness and backache, and reduce the noise of the boat as it tears through the water and slams down on the surface.,” Jérémie explains.
Most recently, Hydros Innovation has signed an agreement with an industrial partner in order to produce the prototype in a larger scale (41 feet), and a large number of pre-orders are already on the way. “We are happy to see that what was a crazy idea at the beginning is now a reality and a concrete business. This is the starting point of a new era for yachting and we want to be at the centre of it,” We hope to develop other new applications for yachting and maritime transport, and maybe even branch into other sectors. The story is not over, there is still room for improvement. We need to believe it is possible to recreate and rethink things. “Jérémie concludes.
* Lombard Odier has supported Hydros, the Swiss maritime, sporting and innovation programme, since it was formed in 2010.
** William Froude was an English hydrodynamicist of the 19th century.
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