LifestyleHow a Cargo Ship's Revolutionary 'WindWing' Sails Cut Fuel Costs by 12...

How a Cargo Ship’s Revolutionary ‘WindWing’ Sails Cut Fuel Costs by 12 Tons Daily

The journey of a shipping vessel from China to Brazil last August was notable for its innovative upgrades—a set of 123-feet-tall, sturdy “wings” installed on its deck to utilize wind power for propulsion. Following its initial six-week test run of the green energy technology, the Pyxis Ocean MC Shipping Kamsarmax vessel proved to have a promising future ahead. Six months later, Cargill, the company that owns the vessel, shared the outcomes of subsequent voyages this week, indicating that the vertical WindWing sails could potentially minimize emissions from existing ships.

By harnessing the wind power captured by its two sizeable, maneuverable sails to enhance its speed, the Pyxis Ocean managed to save an average of 3.3 tons of fuel daily. Under favorable weather conditions, the ship’s voyages across portions of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans resulted in a daily reduction of fuel consumption by over 12 tons. Through Cargill’s calculations, this translated to an average decrease of 14 percent in greenhouse gas emissions from the vessel. On its most efficient days, the Pyxis Ocean achieved a 37 percent decrease. Overall, the WindWing’s performance closely aligned with the predictions of its designers’ computational fluid dynamics simulations, staying within 10 percent on average.

[Related: A cargo ship equipped with 123-foot ‘WindWing’ sails recently embarked on its inaugural journey.]

In aggregate, a vessel of similar size equipped with two WindWings could potentially offset emissions equivalent to the removal of 480 cars from roads annually—a figure that could be deemed conservative by BAR Technologies, the creators of WindWing.

“While the Pyxis Ocean is outfitted with two WindWings, we envision that the majority of Kamsarmax vessels will be equipped with three wings, which would further enhance fuel savings and emission reductions by 1.5 times,” stated BAR Technologies CEO John Cooper in a recent announcement.

While the individual achievements of the Pyxis Ocean are promising, it is essential to acknowledge that there are around 110,000 other merchant ships worldwide. Moreover, current port infrastructures are designed to suit conventional vessel dimensions—the additional 125 feet in height posed by WindWings could pose challenges for docking at numerous locations. Jan Dieleman, the president of Cargill’s Ocean Transportation division, reassured that measures are already being implemented to address these concerns.

“Cargill is devising strategies for all vessels utilizing wind-assisted propulsion—not just the Pyxis Ocean—to navigate global trade routes,” as stated in the recent announcement, emphasizing ongoing discussions with over 250 ports to facilitate the accommodation of such ships.

Andrew Paul

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