Flow distortions occur at the outlet section of the intake duct owing to its shape properties, which is a component of water-jet propulsion. Since the noticeable influence of intake’s flow characteristics upon propulsive efficiency, it’s necessary to focus on intake duct redesign. In this paper, a systematic methodology for reducing flow distortions and power losses within the intake duct through a shape optimization process was obtained. In addition, the mechanism of flow distortions was also developed.

The flush type inlet applied in the marine vessel with the speed of 30 knots was chosen as research project. Four characteristic parameters were set as optimization variables depending on the geometrical relationship of thirteen characteristic parameters referred to the duct longitudinal midsection, which were the ramp angle α, the radius of the upper lip R3, the radius of the lower lip R4 and the lip height h respectively.

Subsequently, a sample space was built by Latin Hypercube Sampling (LHS) and the parameters were normalized in the range of 0 to 1. With the commercial software CFX, the numerical simulation was accomplished driven by SST k-ω turbulence model. Multi-objective optimization based on the Non-Dominated Sorting Genetic Algorithm II (NSGA-II) was utilized to minimize the non-uniformity at outlet section and maximize the minimal pressure at lip simultaneously. Moreover, the Radial Basis Function (RBF) neural network was employed to approximate the functional relationship between variables and objectives, which could be applied in the NSGA-II to get the Pareto Front.

The minimum non-uniformity point and the trade-off point (The point both satisfies the minimum non-uniformity and the maximum minimal pressure at lip strategically) were selected from the Pareto Front. With regard to the characteristic parameters of the trade-off point, the ramp angle, the radius of the upper lip, the radius of the lower lip and the lip height are 31.91°, 11.42 mm, 400.97 mm and 55.43 mm respectively.

Meanwhile, the characteristic parameters of the minimum non-uniformity point are 30.22°, 25.59 mm, 166.65 mm and 89.90 mm respectively. Ultimately, the duct outflow characteristics of prototype and optimization are compared. In terms of the trade-off point, the minimal pressure at lip increases 66.40% to −24488.93 Pa and the non-uniformity has a drop of 4.56% to 0.1571. The non-uniformity of the minimum point is 0.1481 which is reduced by 10.02%. Through the optimization of duct shape, the secondary flow (Dean vortices) is suppressed effectively. This paper is expected to provide a better comprehension of the flow field within the intake duct of water-jet propulsion.

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