Cloud-based simulation of the hydrodynamic resistance of ships’ hulls in the presence of waves
Currently, the testing of physical models is considered to be the most appropriate means of assessing the additional resistance experienced by ships’ hulls due to waves. However, physical testing is time consuming and expensive. There is a clear demand for all players in the maritime industry to develop accurate and reliable numerical methods to perform such assessments as a viable alternative to traditional experimental tests. In this respect, the potential savings for a shipbuilding company could be significant by reducing or eliminating the need for experimental models in favour of an HPC-based simulation package to analyse resistance. Engys is a British SME. It provides software solutions for industry, offering a variety of expert products and services focusing on OpenFOAM libraries for CFD. The objective of this experiment is to demonstrate the use of cloud-based HPC computing, using Engys’ software, to simulate and analyse the additional hydrodynamic resistance to ships’ hulls due to waves. The feasibility of such simulations will be demonstrated using existing software ported to cloud-based HPC systems. The Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG) is a UK HPC expert and software supplier. CETENA is an Italian company specialising in the maritime field. EPCC, the supercomputing centre at the University of Edinburgh, was the HPC provider.
Developing effective methods and tools to achieve accurate predictions of additional ship resistance in waves (compared to calm seas) is currently a high priority for ship designers, shipbuilders and maritime consultancy companies.
Physical testing is time consuming and expensive. Accurate and reliable numerical methods to complete such assessments need to be developed as a viable alternative to traditional experimental tests. In this respect, the potential savings for a shipbuilding company could amount to more than €100,000 per year by reducing the need for experimental models in favour of an HPC-based simulation analysis.
Performing the simulations in-house with the required degree of accuracy is currently not a viable approach for a small company because it takes too long. A single wave and speed condition simulation typically takes multiple days to complete on a medium size HPC cluster with 80 to 100 cores. Methods that need less computing time exist, but do not produce results of a sufficiently high quality.
The solution is to use a cloud-based HPC approach, in which multiple jobs can be submitted to a large on-demand HPC resource (in this case based at the University of Edinburgh). The HELYX client has been adapted to be able to submit jobs to the HPC service seamlessly. The software that runs on the HPC system has been optimized to run efficiently on multiple cores and return the results quickly to the user.
Potential savings for CETENA (or a similar shipbuilding company) could amount to more than €100,000 per year by employing the new cloud-based HPC numerical solutions developed in this experiment. The pay-per-use business model is highly attractive for SMEs (such as design and engineering consultants), as the purchase and maintenance of an in-house cluster are too expensive.
All software additions planned by ENGYS are expected to increase the sales of both HELYX and HELYX-EcoMarine products. By offering a new state-of-the-art CFD software solution for advanced ship resistance calculations, in line with the latest International Maritime Organization guidelines, they will increase their competitiveness in this market.
The target market for exploitation is extensive, with over 830 active shipbuilders and shipyards operating worldwide and a predicted global revenue of €240 billion by 2019, representing a five-year projected 1.2% annualized growth. In Europe alone, there are over 150 large shipyards with a global market share of around 6% in terms of tonnage and 35% for marine equipment, totaling €60 billion in annual turnover according to official EU figures from 2012.
As a first step towards exploiting this large market, the partners are currently targeting a small group of companies in the maritime industry located in Italy, Japan and South Korea to take-up the technology developed in Fortissimo.
There are multiple benefits for CETENA:
- Lower computational cost and no need for expensive physical model tests.
- Better quality of results due to the use of cloud-based HPC
- Much reduced time in the design cycle due to being able to analyse multiple scenarios in parallel.
- Potential savings that could amount to more than €100,000 per year for a typical user