Wind-powered cargo ship
August 23, 2023 - A cargo ship partly powered by two massive steel and composite-glass “sails” has completed her maiden voyage. The prototype devices can cut fuel consumption and a ship’s carbon footprint.
The Pyxis Ocean, a 73,447-tonne bulk carrier chartered by commodity giant Cargill Inc., is the first ship retrofitted with two “WindWings,” each 37.5 metres (123 feet) high.
The cargo ship has just finished her maiden voyage from Shanghai to Singapore in a test of its two rigid sails -- constructed from the same material as wind turbine blades.
Designer BAR Technologies says the wings can cut the vessel’s fuel use by roughly a fifth.
“Wind is a near marginal cost-free fuel and the opportunity for reducing emissions, alongside significant efficiency gains in vessel operating costs, is substantial,” explained John Cooper, CEO of BAR Technologies.
According to the International Maritime Organisation, the shipping industry spews as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere yearly as 283 coal-fired power plants.
Cargill hopes to retrofit sails to 10 more vessels in its fleet of 570 ships. Cargill’s bulk carriers move 200 million tonnes of commodities worldwide every year.
“Performance depends on a ship’s route, how many sails are installed and, of course, the wind,” said Jan Dieleman, president of Cargill’s ocean transportation business. He isn’t expecting the Pyxis Ocean, owned by Mitsubishi Corp.’s shipping arm and currently en route to Brazil, to make a return on investment for seven to ten years, if ever.