Enabling sustainable high speed shipping. Discover the advantages with our Hydrofoil Energy Reduction tool.
Hydrofoil Energy Reduction Tool
We understand flight control
We believe that our hydrofoils are the solution for sustainable fast shipping. Hydrofoils (or, in short: foils) lift the hull of a boat or ship out of the water. This reduces the energy consumption of high speed vessels by up to 80% and enables the use of zero-emission propulsion.
On top of energy savings, foils guarantee more comfort for crew and passengers than conventional fast boats and ships.
With modern control systems developed by our experienced engineers, we can provide hydrofoils that are a stable platform in many weather conditions. Our design process involves real-time simulations and cost-effective production techniques. This allows us to provide complete foil systems for many types of high speed craft, from patrol vessels to large ferries.
To make fast clean sailing even easier, you may combine our foil system with our Electric Propulsion System. This way, we can deliver truly sustainable high speed operations for your fleet on batteries or hydrogen!
Advantages of Hydrofoils
Take off with the Flying Fish Foil System
Our Flying Fish Foil System is a basis for active flight control. The system is configured to serve a wide range of vessels. In this way, you can be sure of reliable flight control system that helps you fly over the waves.
The all-in-one system consists of acceleration sensors multiple height sensors, control units, actuators and adaptive hydrofoils. But the true magic is in the sophisticated control software. Our engineering experts apply ten years of hydrofoil control experience in this system to make your vessel fly safely and comfortably. Even in wind and waves.
Want to know more about this system? Do not hesitate to get in touch.
Hydrofoils are most effective on fast, lightweight ships. Check the potential energy savings of these four examples!
*Conventional power based on datasheets from large shipbuilders
Other great applications for our hydrofoils are:
- Passenger ferries up to 300 pax
- Fast crew supply vessels for wind farms
- Waterborne drones
- Yachts up to 70m and yacht tenders
Our engineers are ready to help you select the best hydrofoil concept for your boat or ship. We do this with a feasibility study for your use case. Requesting a feasibility study takes only a few clicks and allows us to really help you with our hydrofoil design expertise.
How we design your hydrofoil
We work according to the V-model for engineering, meaning we start with your requirements and wishes and derive the technical hydrofoil requirements from these.
Our hydrofoil engineers then pick the right foil profile and hydrofoil shape. In parallel, we design the ideal flight control system for your application. We take into account the 3D motions of your boat or ship in different weather conditions. In that way, we can design for safety and comfort.
After the design, we prototype the foils and control systems. This prototype is a combination of hardware (foils, sensors, computers, actuators, wiring) and control software. We test the prototype and its interfaces to your boat or ship. We take into account the required sea state, the control system time delays, actuator speeds and much more.
Finally, we integrate our hydrofoil systems and test the full hydrofoiling boat or ship with you to validate our design.
Expertise & Experience
It is no coincidence that 'Flying' is part of our name. Making things fly really is in the DNA of Flying Fish.
In the past we developed several end-to-end hydrofoil boats, such as the TU Delft Solar Boat and the Hydrofoil Education and Research Platform. We actively support the TU Delft Hydro Motion Team with our hydrofoil simulation and implementation expertise. We have strong theoretical understanding which we used to develop our HOST (Hydrofoil Optimization and Simulation Tool). With HOST, we perform real-time foiling simulations for optimization of the design.
With HOST, our control systems engineers design the active control that come with our hydrofoils. When the design is done, we also provide rapid prototyping and validation to really make it fly!
We are convinced that the Dutch Maritiem Masterplan and the Dutch National Growth Fund (Nationaal Groeifonds) are the perfect opportunity to prove that hydrofoils are essential for fast zero-emission shipping.
We have formed a consortium with other companies to realize this vision.
If you are interested to join as supplier or end user, please get in touch with our team.
Background: Challenges in Hydrofoil Design
This section is designed as a knowledge hub to answer your most pressing questions about hydrofoils and their design principles.
The technology of hydrofoils, while rooted in history, is getting more popular since a few years. The reason: saving energy while increasing speed and comfort.
2. What are Hydrofoils?
Hydrofoils or Foils are wing-like structures attached to the hull of a boat or ship that lift the hull out of the water as the vessel gains speed. Much like an airplane wing, these underwater wings function using principles of fluid dynamics. As the boat gains speed, water flows faster around the hydrofoil, creating a pressure difference between the top and bottom of the foil. This lifts the hull of the boat out of the water. And with no hull in the water, there is less water resistance. This significantly increases the speed and efficiency of the boat or ship.
3. The Benefits of Hydrofoils
Hydrofoils enable vessels to reduce water resistance by up to 80%, saving significant energy in the process. In essence, they allow boats to 'fly' over water, leading to a more efficient, smoother, and faster travel experience.
Moreover, modern technological advances have made the implementation of hydrofoils more practical than ever before. The decreasing costs of advanced control systems, sensors, and processing power have made it possible for us at Flying Fish to develop reliable, safe, and cost-effective hydrofoil systems.
Because hydrofoils generate more lift when water flows around them, they offer most benefits for vessels that need to sail fast. Also, if a vessel is more lightweight, it needs smaller hydrofoils and therefore will have even less water resistance. You can check these effects in the Hydrofoil Calculator.
4. The Technical Complexity of Hydrofoil Engineering
Designing a hydrofoil boat or ship comes with some technical challenges that make hydrofoil design a professional craft of its own.
The first of these challenges has to do with the boat dynamics. A traditional boat or ship requires a propeller to move in longitudinal direction (forward and backward) and a rudder to steer (around the so-called yaw axis). In addition, a hydrofoil vessel also requires control over the flight height, the roll-axis and the pitch-axis. This means a foiling boat usually has 3 more degrees of freedom in its motion. It requires full understanding of flight dynamics, control systems, sensor filtering and mechanical actuation to make a hydrofoil fly as it should.
In addition to these degrees of motion, a second challenge is that the hydrofoils have to lift the weight of the entire boat out of the water at specific points, whereas a traditional ship is supported over its entire hull. This change causes material stress in the foils and introduces higher forces into the hull structure. A proper analysis of forces and deformations in the materials is required to guarantee the foils safely carry the loads they encounter.
So, developing an efficient hydrofoil system involves a balance of technical disciplines, from mechanical engineering to software development. At Flying Fish, our multidisciplinary team integrates these elements to create hydrofoils that can be easily applied to existing ship designs. This enables any shipbuilder to not only reduce energy consumption of their new boat, but also to improve comfort on board.
We design robust hardware following industry standards, to guarantee durability. This hardware stands up to the physical forces and corrosive effects of a marine environment. Furthermore, our background in mechatronics and onboard data ensures all parts of our hydrofoil system work together and reliably. Our hydrofoils are engineered for easy application to your vessel, robust performance and ease of maintenance.
5. Understanding Hydrofoils: Configurations, Control & Stability
There are three primary configurations for the placement of foils (or wings) on hydrofoil vessels: the canard, tandem and aircraft arrangements.
1) Canard Configuration: In the canard configuration, the smaller set of hydrofoils (referred to as canards) is placed forward of the main foils, towards the front of the boat. This setup is akin to the placement of small, forward wings on some aircraft. In nautical applications, canard configurations may offer better robustness against waves, but this depends on the design details.
2) Tandem Configuration: The tandem configuration involves two similar-sized hydrofoils positioned on the rear and front of the vessel. This setup distributes lift and weight almost equally between the front and rear foils. The advantage of this layout is that it potentially allows for better control, although it can be more structurally complex to design and implement.
3) Aircraft Configuration: The aircraft configuration places the larger main hydrofoils towards the front of the vessel, with smaller stabilizing foils at the stern, much like the layout of a conventional airplane. This setup may have advantages in terms of practical arrangment, because the smaller rear foil can be used for steering or propulsion with less exposure to floating objects in the water.
A crucial aspect to understand about hydrofoils is the concept of flight stability. Hydrofoil vessels need to maintain a steady 'flight' height above the water, requiring a delicate balance to prevent pitching or rolling. In the past, passive stability was often applied for calm waters. However, this leads to limited control over the entire range of speeds and sea states.
Luckily, modern control systems can actively monitor and adjust the hydrofoil's lift precisely to maintain this stability. Thanks to on-board software, the control system can account for factors like speed changes, wave conditions, and shifts in the vessel's load. This means that active control systems allow a hydrofoil to be used in a wide range of weather and wave conditions.
Besides requiring sensors and onboard controller, hydrofoil lift control requires a change in the water flow over the foil. This can be achieved through the use of flaps or full-wing control as follows:
1) Flap Control: Similar to the flaps on an airplane wing, these adjustable parts on the trailing edge of a hydrofoil can be manipulated to change the wing's lift characteristics. By altering the angle of the flaps in response to varying conditions and speeds, one can effectively manage the boat's lift and maintain an optimal ride height above the water. Control via flaps provides the most lightweight and power-efficient solution.
2) Full-Wing Lift Control: In contrast, full-wing control systems adjust the entire hydrofoil's angle of attack to regulate lift. This approach can require more energy and lead to more drag, but avoids the use of small mechanisms under water.
So, our applied expertise in control systems enables the hydrofoil to maintain balance by varying the lift forces on the wings. We can test our control systems before applying them, using our in-house developed hydrofoil flight simulator. This means we can test the flight experience of different hydrofoil configurations and control methods in various sea states.
6. Hydrofoils and Green Propulsion
The era of green propulsion with electric motors is here and hydrofoils are perfectly positioned to join that era. The inherent characteristics of electric motors - notably their high peak power and excellent efficiency - pair exceptionally well with the physics of hydrofoil boats.There are three primary propulsion options for hydrofoil vessels each with their distinct pros and cons:
1) In-Hull Motor with Driveshaft: This involves housing the electric motor within the vessel's hull. The motor's power is transmitted to a propellor via a driveshaft which extends through a vertical strut. A gearbox is typically required to match the high rotational speed of the electric motor with the lower optimal speed of the propeller. This option is known for its robustness and has the advantage of keeping the motor protected inside the hull.
2) In-Hull Motor with Waterjet System: Another approach involves using a waterjet system. The electric motor is located within the hull and drives a high-speed pump, which sucks in water and ejects it at high speed, creating thrust. This setup is mechanically simpler, as it does not require a driveshaft or gearbox. However, the efficiency is generally lower than a well-designed propeller system due to energy losses in the jet pump.
3) Underwater Pod with Direct-Drive Motor: In this configuration, the electric motor is housed in an underwater pod, directly driving a propeller without the need for a gearbox. The advantages of this system include improved efficiency due to the absence of a gearbox and driveshaft. However, it also presents its own challenges. The underwater location increases drag and can complicate motor maintenance. The motor and electrical connections must also be meticulously protected from the surrounding seawater.
As with all engineering solutions, the best choice depends on the specific use case, mission profile, and design constraints of the vessel. Each of these setups represents a viable path forward in the world of green propulsion. At Flying Fish, we use our extensive expertise in hydrofoil design and green propulsion technologies to help our customers make the best choices for their specific needs.
7. The Foiling Future
Because of the need for dramatic energy reduction in the maritime industry, the potential applications of hydrofoils are diverse and growing. From crew transfer vessels, passenger ferries, and water taxis to leisure yachts, we envision a future where hydrofoils become the standard in the marine industry. At Flying Fish, we aim to democratize this technology by offering a range of standardized hydrofoil modules, easily adaptable by shipyards and naval architects worldwide.
8. Join the Hydrofoil Revolution!
We are currently developing our Flying Fish Foil System (3FS): a comprehensive, fully-integrated solution to elevate your maritime vessels. Making your boat 'fly' will no longer be a distant dream but an accessible reality. Our foil system ensures seamless transition from conventional navigation to hydrofoil mode, offering the benefits of increased speed, exceptional energy efficiency, and smoother rides.
We invite you to join us in this exciting journey towards a future of zero-emission fast shipping. By making ships fly, we're helping shape a greener, more sustainable world that does not compromise on comfort or speed. Get in touch with us to discuss more or check out our Hydrofoil Calculator first to get a feeling for the energy you can save!
Request a Feasibility Study
We will contact you as soon as possible to investigate the feasibility of your hydrofoil project!