The right measuring equipment for marine propulsion investigations and optimization

Marine propulsion investigations and optimization

Ship propeller investigations focus on various aspects: operational efficiency, propeller design as well as quieting. Propulsion systems with rotational propeller dynamics can induce vibration as well as radiated underwater acoustics. In order to enable precise measurements of these factors, Kistler delivers pressure and force sensors and even customized dynamometers.

The propeller operates in a spatially non-uniform wake, so there are fluctuations in parameters such as the propeller thrust and boundary pressure of a submarine hull which, in turn, can generate significant acoustic signature. Propellers generate periodic pulsating pressure forces on the vessel's hull; occasional cavitation that occurs on the propeller blade can significantly intensify these forces.

Alongside the cavitation analysis, options for investigating the forces and torques acting on the propeller shaft include static test benches, cavitation tunnels and propelled model testing in towing tanks or wave pools. Kistler offers application specific sensors and customized dynamometers to enable efficient marine propulsion investigations and optimization.

High natural frequency

Rotating equipment often requires higher-frequency force and moment measurement to characterize test articles and conditions as a function of harmonics (e.g. multiples of rotational speed). For example, a 3,000 Hz natural frequency would result in a 10% frequency of 1,000 Hz. PE pressure measurement provides a much wider frequency range (>300 kHz) to characterize cavitation effects.


Piezoelectric (PE) measurement technology provides both high-resolution quasi-static and dynamic measurement and is rangeable with an external charge amplifier. For example, force and moment instabilities can manifest as low-level dynamic events under high hydrostatic conditions that can easily be measured with high fidelity. PE pressure measurements have similar attributes, whereas IEPE pressure has fixed measuring range.

Application flexibility

Single and multicomponent force sensors from Kistler can be configured to create dynamometers that meet specific application requirements; they are flexible enough to allow adaption to different dynamometer designs as requirements evolve. With their small diaphragm diameters, PE pressure sensors can be mounted either singly or in a closely spaced array of several sensors.