PRediction of ICE-ship-interaction (PRICE)
Global climate changes decrease the ice extent across the Arctic Sea, i.e., the ice retreats northwards of the Russian north coast. This promotes an increase of commercial shipping in the Arctic, in addition to oil and gas resource exploitation activities. Arctic passages from Northern Europe to the Far East are economically appealing alternatives to existing sea-transportation routes, i.e. via the Suez Canal, due to up to 40% shortened distances and significant fuel savings. Furthermore, the reduction in sea ice increases the window for offshore operations and makes them feasible in formerly inaccessible areas.
The benefits of more profitable transport routes and explorations of natural resources come at the expense of significantly more demanding environmental conditions, which are also less well known, to which the ship has to comply to. The compliance concerns primarily a vessels ability to break ice while transiting. The current icebreaking analysis is based on empirical knowledge and experience from relatively thin first-year ice, gained to a large extent in the Baltic Sea. As opposed to this, the availability of a direct simulation approach for an icebreaking vessel operating in various target ice conditions is of large commercial interest. PRICE will address this interest and aims to develop a direct simulation approach for the prognosis of the hull load and icebreaking resistance. It brings together icebreaking ship designers from industry with academic experts from ice & structure mechanics, hydrodynamics & computational engineering as well as physical models and probabilistic methods in a joint collaborative effort. Unique to this project will be the synergy of these disciplines.
Direct simulations for an icebreaking vessel are of commercial interest, because extrapolating from small Baltic Sea vessels can be a major source of errors and the alternative to downscale, e.g. Russian polar icebreakers, will not result in economic concepts for merchant vessels. Furthermore, a distinct winter navigation system is in place for the Baltic region, where the required ice performance is a function of economic constraints, because the vessels ice class is reflected in the port fees. For the arctic region, such system does not apply, but a considerable increase of transits is seen. A mission-based design method is thus required to ensure safe and economic performance in the Arctic (Ehlers et al. 2014). The shortage of direct simulation methods for the performance analysis in regions covered fully or partially by level ice, has also become an issue for design departments and consultants that focus on ice-class vessels for offshore and polar technologies. Against the background of a lack of experience, common requests to design for competitive advantages and enhance the vessels performance under the aegis of decreasing time frames and financial restrictions might become business critical. This situation will be addressed by the strategic aim of the PRICE project to shift design practices towards efficient direct numerical simulation methods based upon first-principles.