Torque: A novice's question

Discussion in 'Propulsion' started by Carlazzomark, Oct 2, 2006.

  1. Carlazzomark
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Carlazzomark Senior Member

    I know nothing about the mechanics of boat propulsion.

    My questions have to do with the torque requirements of a human powered shaft/propeller.

    Is torque less important than power? What is the optimum torque for a shaft/propeller for a common pedal boat?


  2. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

  3. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Torque is limited by the maximum amount the person can PUSH ~ 200-250 lbs for a good cycling athlete.

    Power is limited by the ability of the body to oxygenate. ~0.75 hp max aerobic, ~1.25 hp max anaerobic

    General long distance performance for legs only is 60-70 lbs push, 9" cranks, 60-80 rpm (i.e. .5 to .75 hp) Remember that as push goes up, cycles go down while push goes down, cycles rarely top 100-120 regardless of how low the push goes.

    Go see the International Human Powered Vehicle Association website
    if you want more info.

  4. SteamFreak
    Joined: Jun 2006
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    Location: Galveston, TX

    SteamFreak USMM

    T-Torque (ft-lbs)
    SO normally, a power equation might look like...

    150 ft-lbs X 60Rev/Min= 9000 ft-lbs/min (or to convert to horsepower)
    (9000 ft-lbs/m) X (1hp/33000ft-lbs)= .27 hp

    not alot...

    Anyway, the fact is for a human powered machine, a high torque requirement is the last thing you want (unless you like working out and short tours). Introducing gearing to allow a build up of speed (rev/min) at the prop without requiring higher torque will give you performance without killing the legs.

    So torque and power are functions of one another and gearing allows you to achieve the same output power with less torque. An average sedan might only put out 150ft-lbs of torque but achieves over 120 hp through high revs and achieves speeds in excess of 90 mph through gearing.

    As far as boats are concerned, torque determines how big a prop you can turn with so much "bite" or pitch. This is why diesels are prefered for work boats. They produce high torque at low rpms to drive good size props, thus consuming less fuel oil for their output power.

    A human is not an engine and as jehardiman points out, output drops alot for a human once the cells begin to run aerobic (having burned all the sugars for anaerobic exercise, the "sprint").

    Read through that thread and take notes from models in production.

    EDIT: As a note from jehardiman pointed out, my calcs above are not precise by any means. The actual formula has a few multipliers for taking into acount friction, angular rotation, and a whole bunch of other stuff if you really care to get technical. My formula above is merely for illustrative purposes as to the relationship between torque, power, and other factors.
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