Sailing through fluid mud

current advances and challenges

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Instead of maintenance dredging, an alternative option for port authorities is to adapt the PIANC's nautical bottom approach. For practical purposes, the nautical bottom is defined as the level at which the fluid mud reaches either a critical density or a critical yield stress (the shear strength). These values generally correspond to a level at which the mud undergoes a so-called "rheological transition", where the density and strength of the mud increase rapidly over a short distance. Below this level, the mud becomes more and more like solid ground and is therefore no longer navigable.
Recently, new scientific and practical research has been conducted in order to gain additional knowledge on navigability in ports with fluid mud layers. In particular, a systematic rheological analysis was conducted to determine the critical limits of the yield stresses and density of fluid mud. Furthermore, a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model was developed to numerically investigate the ship-mud interaction. The model was applied to study the effects of muddy bottoms on the full-scale resistance of a modern oil tanker at speeds between 3 and 9 knots. It was confirmed that not only the density but also the yield stress of the fluid mud should be considered in the practical application of the nautical bottom. Finally, the paper discussed how the standard maintenance dredging methods can be used for producing navigable fluid mud layers.