The Van der Velden® FLEX Tunnel is a retractable tunnel, which can be set into operation only when necessary.
When a ship is loaded and sailing in deep draught, the FLEX Tunnel is retracted and embedded into the vessel hull. In this situation, the water flows into the propeller unobstructed. In comparison to a conventional tunnel, the flexible retraction of this system significantly reduces the overall resistance of a vessel.
When a ship sails at shallow draught (e.g. with low water levels) , the propellers are not fully covered in the water, which makes them function less (high resistance and low velocity). This is when the FLEX Tunnel needs to be deployed. This guarantees water inflow to the propeller, making a ship operational for a longer period of time. With the FLEX Tunnel a vessel can sail longer on shallow waters and/or can take more cargo. The risk of not being operational during shallow water periods is significantly reduced.
The emergence of the FLEX tunnel goes back to 2010, when Damen Marine Components developed the concept together with research institute DST Duisburg. The retractable tunnel was extensively tested at different water depths and speeds in various configurations, also measuring resistance reduction when the tunnel is deployed. There was one clear conclusion;the FLEX Tunnel provides considerably higher operational efficiency for the entire vessel.
For the integration of the FLEX Tunnel, the total hull design should be customised. This innovation is therefore not suited to existing vessels.
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