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Sea Vessel Research Modeled After Dolphins

PULLMAN – As airplanes are like birds; boats can be like dolphins. Washington State University Engineering Professor Konstantin Matveev and his team of research students are designing sea vessels to do just that.

The idea behind dolphin-like sea vessels came from Matveev’s childhood visions while living near seaports in Russia. He would go on boat tours with his family and watched as his Naval Architect parents designed new boats at the port every so often. While he was at the seaports he watch marine life and thought that boats should do the same things while out at sea.

“Dolphins such as other marine animals can adapt their bodies to environmental conditions and specific tasks they have in mind.”

~ Konstantin Matveev.

Today, Matveev is fulfilling his vision by designing sea vessels with the National Science Foundation’s $300,000 grant given to his research team. The design consists of a hydrofoil, a removable and adaptable metal flap under the ship’s hull, that is adaptable based on sea waves working with air pressure.

The function of his sea vessel designs are to create a ship that can manage any wave in any weather while shipping things across the vast oceans and not losing any containers in the process.

As Matveev researches these adaptable parts he has called on students to also put some input into these vessels such as student researcher Jeff Michaels and P.h.d candidate Miles Wheeler.

Both Michaels and Wheeler study how air flow under the ships hull can interact with the adaptable and movable hydrofoil when water hits the underbelly of the ship.

“My favorite part is just watching the water flow…Well when you are watching the air cavity form…  For example the air-water interactions can do fairly complex things and it is really neat to watch.”

~ Jeff Michaels 

Miles Wheeler describes the research as digital physics showing what the naked eye can’t see through computer generated graphics. The graphics show how the hydrofoil reacts with wave breaks as well as how much air pressure can build up to help the boat hull reach equilibrium.

“Basically taking your Physics and modeling the equations behind them and then using numerical methods of solving the equations by putting them on the computer.”

~ Miles Wheeler

As Matveev’s childhood visions continues to unfold into a reality he wants to bring it to the forefront of the shipping industry. The new designs will be displayed at upcoming engineering conventions around the country to educate the world on how these vessels differ from others and how much they will save in cost.

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Note: Murrow News is produced by students of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. Northwest Public Broadcasting proudly supports the work produced by these young journalists. 

If you have any issues/concerns please feel free to reach out to Instructor, Kanale Rhoden or Department Chair, Ben Shors.

©2019 Washington State University Board of Regents – Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. 

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