Sailing is an attractive and non-pollutant activity that provides many jobs. The manufacturing of advanced sails is a significant sector of the European Industry due to its high quality and to its success in the Olympic Games and other competitions. However, the market is becoming more demanding and the technology evolves rapidly; several countries (mostly USA and New Zealand) devote important efforts to this industrial sector and have developed innovative and competitive new products. The purpose of this project is to help the European advanced sail industry to meet this challenge. A technical description follows. Advanced sails are made of composite materials (e.g. a mylar matrix with an embedded network of kevlar reinforcement fibres). Two obstacles mainly constrain the technological development of the advanced sails manufacturing industry: - The coupled structural and aerodynamic behaviour of the sail-boat-sea assemblage is complex and there are no numerical models able to simulate it with reliability and accuracy. Because of this lack the design of sails and boats has to be semi-empirical. This strongly constrains the development of innovative solutions. - Even though the final shape of sails has to be curved, they are manufactured by seaming or sticking flat pieces. This has two main drawbacks: the sails are too heavy and, since the continuity of the fibres is interrupted at the seams, such connections constitute weak points. The technical objectives of this project aim to overcome both constraints: - An accurate and reliable numerical model (finite element code) to simulate the aerodynamic and structural behaviour of the sail-boat-sea assemblage will be developed. - An automated advanced sails production system will be built. Its main part will be a mould whose upper surface is convex and can modify its curvatures according to those of the sail. The numerical model will be implemented in this system as it will be able to design and manufacture advanced seamless curved sails (main and Genoa) in an automated and integrated way. This new generation of sails will be more efficient and significantly cheaper. Some prototype sails will be produced and tested. The main products of the project will be: the production system, the new generation of sails and the numerical model. A spin-off effect will be the simulation of the structural and aerodynamic response of air ship membranes.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
3640 AD Mijdrecht
1231 MK Loosdrecht