Propulsion – Voith-Schneider

In our Propulsion-series we now discuss a third system, Voith-Schneider.

The Voith-Schneider propeller is a specialized marine propulsion system. It is highly maneuverable, being able to change the direction of its thrust almost instantaneously.

Over 80 years ago this ship’s propulsion system, the only one of its kind in the world was developed by Voith from an idea by the Austrian engineer Ernst Schneider. It allows thrust of any magnitude to be generated in any direction quickly, precisely and in a continuously variable manner. It combines propulsion and steering in a single unit.

Voith Schneider propulsion - © Voith

From a circular plate, rotating around a vertical axis, a circular array of vertical blades (in the shape of hydrofoils) protrude out of the bottom of the ship. Each blade can rotate itself around a vertical axis. The internal gear changes the angle of attack of the blades in sync with the rotation of the plate, so that each blade can provide thrust in any direction, very similar to the collective pitch control and cyclic in a helicopter.