There is a global surge of activity at sea. This means more movement of people at sea, with all the additional fuel consumption and safety risks that this entails. To ensure the safety and comfort of seafarers, research is needed on the behaviour of future vessels in high waves. The energy efficiency of these ships also needs to be improved.

The Future Ships Complex Flows theme can be divided into three lines of research. First, researchers are working on the further, fundamental development of hydrofoils. As a result of their design, these are less sensitive to wave disruption, which means this type of vessel is potentially safer and more efficient. However, the reliable and safe regulation of hydrofoils as fast transport and utility vessels is still in the initial stages of development.

Second, conventional vessel designs can also be improved. One of the options for this is the use of air lubrication, in which layers of air around the ship reduce resistance. The water-air mixture on the hull is difficult to scale from model to reality and will require a new facility to conduct fundamental research.

Third, at a fundamental level, researchers are also looking at the high-risk interaction of vessels with waves, for example the influence of water on deck, the impact of very large waves on stability and ‘slamming’, vessels beating against the water. As these phenomena have not yet been sufficiently identified and analysed physically, they have not yet been fully taken into account in the design of vessels.

The research links fundamental fluid mechanics to naval engineering and increases knowledge of hydrodynamics, from theory to large-scale experiments. The towing tanks, the new multi-phase flow facility and the PIV/DIC facility are crucial for the latter.


  • Towing tank
  • Multi-phase Flow Facility (new)
  • Towing tank for PIV/DIC (new)
  • Flume tanks