Surface-Sensing Hydrofoil

Client: Bernard Shattock (inventor)

Project Period:  2002 - 2005 

The inventor proposed a high efficiency surface-sensing hydrofoil, suitable for deployment with towed seismic arrays for oil and gas exploration, and with possible further applications in sailing/ kite sailing.

Aerotrope produced an extensive hydrodynamic performance analysis, which informed our structural design engineering for the full-scale foils. Working closely with the inventor, we drew up a project plan for the demonstrator and provided the technical support of the model’s subsequent sea trials.

These trials demonstrated the foil's passive control concept, involving a particular articulation between its two hydrofoil surfaces. More work was needed to overcome potential difficulties due to accumulated weed at this small scale.

However, the focus of investigation was on the hydrofoil's use as a seismic deflector. These are of many square metres area, and the effort generated is several tons. At this scale, extra drag from accumulated weed and other flotsam is generally not a problem.

This unconventional hydrofoil attracted interest from customers in the oil industry over some years. Still, the very considerable cost of large scale tests prohibited further investigations.

Patent No EP 1187757 B1.