An innovative project out of the UK seeks to reduce carbon emissions at sea by retrofitting large ocean vessels with ultramodern wing-sails to reduce the amount of fuel required to travel the oceans.
Powering ships by wind is certainly nothing new. However, almost every large ship today is powered entirely by fossil fuels. A company called Smart Green Shipping has developed retrofit wing-sails called FastRigs that can be installed on existing vessels to reduce fuel consumption. They are also working on additional wind-based technology that can supply all the power required for ships.
FastRig technology is designed to be retrofitted to existing commercial vessels with available deck space – typically bulkers and tankers. There are about 40,000 such ships that are suitable for conversion to this hybrid power system. Installing FastRigs is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20%.
The company and the UK’s University of Southampton have been funded to investigate the potential of the technology to reduce emissions from existing ships. The research project will develop software tools to investigate the complex interactions between the wing-sails and ship hydrodynamics to accurately assess the impact on vessel performance. The software tools will be able to predict the fuel savings delivered by wing-sails.
Smart Green Technologies is developing technology for 100% renewable-powered, new-build ships. The goal is to create quieter, emission-free ships in the future that do no harm to ocean environments and improve air quality in ports, towns, and cities. Wind power harnessed using sophisticated digital software and advanced engineering represents a promising way to reduce fuel consumption and related emissions from large ocean vessels.
Future ships could be powered by wind to fight climate change
Photo, posted October 27, 2017, courtesy of Bernard Spragg via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio