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Supply Chain News: Back to the Future, as Parasails Might Help Reduce Cargo Ship Fuel Usage 20%


Two European Companies Offering Systems that Harness Wind Power with Airborne Sails

Dec. 19 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff

SCDigest reported earlier this year on the tests my container shipping giant Maersk and others on what might be called "vertical sails" - with news that a Maersk tanker ship will be fitted with two large vertical rotor sails (they look like tall cylinders) as part of a project seeking to test wind propulsion technology's potential to reduce fuel consumption in modern day shipping. (See Spinning metal sails could slash fuel consumption, emissions on cargo ships).

Supply Chain Digest Says...

The sail system company are saying that ship owners buying the systems will see a payback period of less than two years through fuel savings.

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Now news of an even simpler and less expensive approach that in effect uses parasails to propel cargo ships forward using wind power.

As reported this week in the UK's Daily Mail, the large sails (see image below) are simply attached to cargo ships using heavy duty cables, and – with some smart navigation – can reduce a ship's use of bunker fuel by as much as 20% per trip. The heavy CO2 emissions from the use of bunker fuel would be reduced at similar levels.

In a sense, it's "back to the future," as in the 1800s steam engines replaced use of wind power and sails to move cargo ships forward.

The Daily Mail says sails currently in development will ultimately unfurl to as much as 10,000 square feet to pull giant cargo ships through the seas.

The long cables – as much currently as 1200 feet - can get the sails up high into the sky where the winds are even stronger than at sea level, and the approach will create enough power that at times the ships will push be able to idle their engines completely.

Developers of the systems include German company SkySails and French competitor. AirSeas. Both offer fully automated systems that launch the sails at the push of a button. The SkySails engineers mostly came from European aircraft giant Airbus.


Source: Daily Mail

With the sails in the sky, computers on board will take the vessel along the best routes for wind and fuel efficiency.

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Testing is in progress. AirSeas recently piloted a smaller kite on a cargo ship between the Bay of Biscay and England. Afterwards, CEO Vincent Bernatets said: "We are in good shape. We are now analyzing the results, but for the time being we are confident."

The sail system company are saying that ship owners buying the systems will see a payback period of less than two years through fuel savings.

What do you think of this sail idea for cargo ships? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


Your Comments/Feedback

Joseph George

Farmer, Field Vista
Posted on: Dec, 21 2017
 10,000 sq.ft. That's serious harnessing and control?  Down to idling sometimes.  Hope I get to see them in 3 years.




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