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ControllablePitchPropeller(CPP)VsFixedPitchPropeller(FPP)

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ControllablePitchPropeller(CPP)VsFixedPitchPropeller
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JANUARY28,2015BYSOUMYACHAKRABORTY

Mostofthepropellersthatareusedinshipsarefixedpitchpropellers(FPP).Whatdoesthispropeller
termmeans?Letsunderstandthisfromabeginnerspointofview.
Ifyoulookatapropelleraxially,youwillnoticeatwistinthepropellerbladealongthelengthofthe
propellerhub.Itisthistwistinthebladethatresultsintheforwardmotionofthepropellerwitheach
rotation.

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Partsofscrewpropeller

Itisprettymuchwhatyouseeonascrew.Theangleofthethreadisactuallywhatiscalledthepitch

angle.Themorethepitchangle,themoredistanceistravelledbythescrewinonerotation,thatis,th
moreisthepitch.Similarly,propellersactontheprincipleofscrew.Hencethetermscrewpropeller.
ButwhatisafixedpitchpropellerortheFPP?

Thepropellerisdesignedinawaysuchthat,ifyoucutthepropellerradiallyatanyrandomradiusfrom

itscentre,thenthecutsectionofthepropellerbladeswillhaveacertainpitch(magnitudedependsu
howtwisteditisalongthelengthofthehub).Nowifyourotatethiscutsectioninwater,theaxial
distancetravelledinonerotationisthepitchofthissection.Ifyouvarytheradiusatwhichyoucuta

section,thetwistofthebladealsovariesfromtheroottothetip.Thismakesitevidentthateachsecti
ofthepropellerhasaparticularpitch.
Therootofthepropellerwillhaveadifferentpitchfromthetipofthepropeller.Sothepitchvariation

fromtheroottothetipisasshowninFigure1.Thequestionnowis,ifeachsectionhasadifferentpit
thenwhatistheresultantpitchofthepropeller?Answeristheresultantpitchistheaverageofallthe
pitchesofeachsectionofthepropeller.

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Bladesectionandvariationofpitchwithsection

Noteverycarefully,thatthepitchvariesalongwiththebladesection(orincreasingdistancefromthe

propellercentre),butthenetaverageorthenetpitchofthepropellerremainsconstant.Suchaprope
isafixedpitchpropeller.

Now,letsgobacktotheconceptofascrew.Whatifyoucouldsomehowchangetheangleofinclinat
ofthethreadsalongthescrew?

Ifyoucould,whatwouldyouactuallybedoingischangingthepitchangleandsubsequently,thepitch

thescrew.Thisisexactlywhythecontrollablepitchpropellerwasdevelopedbytheindustry.Wewillb

dealingwiththeapplicationsindetailalittlelater.Butfornow,itisvitaltoknowthefundamentalwork
ofaControllablePitchPropeller(CPP).

Thetwist(tobereferredaspitchfromnowon)oftherootsectionofthebladeisalwayswithrespectt
theangleitmakeswiththepropellerhub.Whatifwecanchangetheangleoforientationoftheroot?
Andsincealltheotherbladesectionshadtheirpreviouspitchanglealready,theyattainanewpitch

angle.Inotherwords,youareabletocontrolthepitchoftheentirepropeller,bychangingtheorienta
oftherootsectiononthehub.Thisisdonebythemeansofahydrauliccylinder.
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Whentherequiredorientationorpitchofthepropellerisobtained,thebladesarelockedinthatpositio

Sothebladesarenotanintegralpartof(ornotcastedalongwith)thepropellerhub.Theyaremounte
onspindlesthathaveaxesperpendiculartotheshaftaxis.

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ImageCredits:Stahlkocher/Wikipedia

Thefollowingpointswilldiscusstheapplicationsandtheirrelationswiththeadvantagesand
disadvantagesofCPPandFPPsystems:
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Thecontrollablepitchpropellerscanbeusedtoruntheshipinforwardandasterndirectionboth,
withouttherequirementtochangethedirectionofrotationoftheengine.How?Well,thepropeller

worksontheprincipleofliftgeneratedbyeachaerofoilsectionoftheblade.Whatifwecanchange
theorientationoftheblade,suchthatthedirectionoflifeforceisoppositetowhatitwasduring

forwardrunningoftheship?Thatsexactlywhatisachievedbychangingthepitchangleoftheblad
asshowninFigure2.

Bladesectionsshowninvariouspitchorientations

Anonreversibleenginecanbeusedforbothforwardandasternoperationoftheship.Hence,the
weightoftheengineandpropulsionmachineryisreducedconsiderablywhencomparedtowhatis
requiredinpropulsionsystemsequippedwithfixedpitchpropellers.

Sincethepitchofthepropellerdeterminestheamountofthrustgeneratedbythepropeller,achang

inthepitchanglecanbringaboutachangeinthespeedoftheship.So,acontrollablepitchpropell

isusefulinchangingthespeedoftheshipwithoutchangingthespeedorrpmofthemainengine.B

whyarewefocusingonthisadvantage?Whathappensifweneedtoreducetheenginerpmtored
theshipsspeed?Well,manyshipshaveashaftdrivendieselalternatorsystem.Sotherpmofthe

mainengineshaftcontrolstheelectricpowerproductiononboard.Inthatcase,ifthespeedwasto

reducedusingafixedpitchpropeller,itwouldrequireareductionintheshaftrpm,whichwouldresu
inreductionofpowergenerated.

Duetotheabovereason,thespeedoftheshipcanbehandledfromthenavigationbridgedirectly.
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caseoffixedpitchpropellers,themarineengineerneedstobeintimidatedinordertochangethe
shipsspeed.ThereforeCPPtechnologyisusedforobtainingfasterresponseofspeedchange.

Theefficiencyofasternconditionincaseoffixedpitchpropellersislessthanthatofcontrollablepit
propellerinasterncondition.

However,therearemanydisadvantagesofusingacontrollablepitchpropellertoafixedpitchpropell
Itisimportanttoknowthemtoo.

Thepitchcontrolmechanisminstalledinthehubiscomplicatedenoughtodemandproperinspectio
atregularintervals.Theinstallationprocessisalsomorecomplicatedascomparedtothatoffixed
pitchpropellersystem.
Controllablepitchpropellershaveaveryhighinitialcost.Andthiscostincreasesrapidlywith
increasingdiameterofthepropeller.

Duetopitchcontrolmechanismshousedinsidethehub,thelengthandthediameterofthehubisa
highascomparedtothefixedpitchpropellersystems.

Toconclude,itisvitaltoknowtheapplicationsofcontrollablepitchpropellers.Theseareusedinship

thatarerequiredtooperateatvariablespeedsevenwhenoperatingatconstantpowerrequirements.

Suchshipsaretugs,trawlers,ferries,icebreakers,andsmallscalewarshipsthatareequippedwithg
turbines.
Overtoyou..
WhataccordingtoyouarethemostimportantfeaturesofCPPandFPP?
Letsknowinthecommentsbelow.
ReportanError

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AboutSoumyaChakraborty
SoumyaispursuingNavalArchitectureandOceanEngineeringatIMU,Visakhapatnam,India.
Passionateaboutmarinedesign,hebelievesintheimportanceofsharingmaritimetechnical
knowhowamongindustrypersonnelandstudents.HeisalsotheCoFounderandEditorinChiefof
LearnShipDesignAStudentInitiative.

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COMMENTS

AbhiVermasays
January31,2015at7:14pm
beenadeckcadetforabout18monthsnow..sailedonbothtypeofpropulsionsystem..
CPP.itsthebestformanoeuvring.beingonbridgewhenenteringportorchannel.when
thepilotseesaCPP.Youcanseethegrinonhisfacereducestensiononthebridgealot

FergusGloversays
March4,2015at6:12am
1.Whataretheadvantagesanddisadvantagesoffixedpropellerinship?
2.whataretheadvantagesanddisadvantagesofcontrollablepitchproperller?

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TanvirBiswassays
April4,2015at2:16pm
Canweusetheazipodinamerchantshipinsteadofcpporfpp?

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