Wind-Powered Ships Are Making a Comeback – Spinning Sailing Tech

A ship is one of the most expensive investments that a sailor can share in. It can be used for multiple activities ranging from competitions to relaxing in the Mediterranean. Global shipping firms have decided to install a ‘rotor sail’ on ships/oil tankers in an attempt to reduce its carbon emissions and fuel consumptions. The technology is the first step to a wind-powered system on a ship/tanker.

Initially, a German engineer known as Anton Flettner created the rotor sail system. It consists of a large cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to control and power a ship. The good thing about using the rotor rail system is that at sea, there is always an abundance of wind, which allows an infinite amount of power. The technology has been adopted by other technological companies, to provide rotor sails in different sizes and efficiency depending on the requirements of the vessel.

How Does It Work?

As the wind passes the sail, creating a force on each side of the sail, one side speeding up and the other slowing down, a thrust force is created and pushes the boat/vessel forward. However, for the rotor to function, the sail must be able to spin. Therefore, there will be additional support from electricity required. Flettner had created two vessels that were equipped with his rotor sails, and one of them managed to sail from across the Atlantic to New York. However, the recent test while using the rotor sails, instead of the use of diesel, failed. Supposedly, the weight and the cost of the device had much to play in its failure.

Trying, Testing and Developing

Despite the costs and the failures from testing, rotor sails now have a higher level of interest with scientists and engineers alike. The most recent test that will take place will be set on a 240-meter long Maersk tanker. The tanker will be installed with two rotor sails that are 30 meters tall, each and generate 3MV of power from 50kW of electricity. Experts say that this is the first installation of wind power on this type of vessel. Therefore, there is much to be expected. As the installation continues to perform, more data and insights are expected to be collected.

The accurate insights on fuel savings and operations of the vessel have a whole world of savings in store for the sailing industry in the coming years. The collected data can also provide information on how to reduce environmental impacts when sailing.  The newer technologies that are expected to be explored in the future include sails that are powered by solar energy and biofuels. New pollution rules are also being moved into place, with companies being forced to reduce their fuel’s sulfur content in 2020. However, many companies are also coming up with new ideas to build ships with artificial intelligence and drones to complete set activities. Sailing is a costly sport considering the cost of fuel and maintenance of the boats. With the new technologies in place for the industry, there is much to hope for in the future for ardent sailors.


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