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Tasmania’s Stories

International accolades for Tassie engineers

Edition 195_UTASResearch

University of Tasmania (UTAS) research team has won a prestigious international maritime award for ground-breaking work that could help reduce sea-sickness on high-speed vessels.

The team, led by marine engineering lecturer Dr Javad Alavimehr, has been awarded the Medal of Distinction for best research paper from England’s Royal Institution of Naval Architecture.

In collaboration with Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat, they have been experimenting ways to reduce vessel movement on high-speed wave-piercing catamarans. This improves passenger comfort and is one of the keys to reducing motion sickness. 

The experiments are now complete, and Dr Alavimehr said results show they have been able to cut vessel motion by half.

“These results are really significant and far beyond any of our expectations,” Dr Alavimehr said.

“There is little side-to-side rolling on high-speed catamarans, instead any sea sickness tends to be caused by the up-and-down motion – or the pitch – and our modelling has been able to reduce this movement by 50%.

“This in turn was found to have a significant impact on our Motion Sickness Index.”

Using complex algorithmic formulas, the UTAS team has created a new Ride Control System (RCS) to program the ‘T-foils’ at the bow of the catamarans. These are similar to flaps on an aeroplane wing and are moved up and down to dampen vessel motion.

Dr Alavimehr said his RCS would help ensure optimal usage of these crucial T-foils.

“It takes a number of factors into account, including weather, wave size and vessel motion, as it ensures the T-foils are operated with maximum effect,” Dr Alavimehr said.

The UTAS research has been given a helping hand by Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat, whose wave-piercing catamarans are in great demand across the globe.

In fact, Dr Alavimehr’s work involved scale-model experiments based on a 112-metre Incat catamaran, which were conducted at the towing tank at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston.

Incat is one of Tasmania’s great success stories.

The 550-strong work-force at its Hobart shipyard builds the largest high-speed catamarans in the world, and it has the capacity to deliver two new vessels every year.

The company also pioneered the use of RCS in catamarans, as it continually strove to improve passenger comfort.

“Incat began the study of ride control in catamarans in 1990,” said Pierre Denneulin, General Manager of Revolution Design, the Incat engineering team.

“In conjunction with American company, Maritime Dynamics, we introduced the first ride control version in 1991… Constant developments have been incorporated in all Incat production vessels right up to today.”

Meantime, exactly where – and how – the work of Dr Alavimehr and his team fits in, is yet to be determined.

With modelling now complete, sea trials are the next step. And as Incat has demonstrated,  incorporating new innovations – such as the research of the UTAS team – is on on-going and vital process.

“Incat vessels have incorporated trim tabs and T-foils for decades, however it welcomes all efforts to further improve the good ride of modern catamarans,” Mr Denneulin said.

“It is clearly of interest to forecast how a specific design will react to the encountered seas, and how different RCS will contribute to damp the ship motion and consequently reduce the Motion Sickness Index.”

And while all this may sound like high science, the end result really is quite simple.

Dr Alavimehr sums it up succinctly: “Our research will have a very practical application resulting in less sea-sickness – and that is good news for passengers.”

Image courtesy of the University of Tasmania

12 June 2018, Edition 195

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Facts about Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.

Tasmania

Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.

Geography

Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.

Geography

The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.

Geography

About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.

Climate

Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.

Climate

In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.

Population

The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.

Flora

Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.

Flora

Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.

Fauna

Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.

Economy

Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.

Economy

The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.

Economy

Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.

Economy

The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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