Wind-powered freighter design could revolutionise international shipping

Norwegian engineer Terje Lade has designed a wind-propelled cargo ship that could revolutionise the way we transport goods around the world.

The ship, dubbed the Vindship, uses the hull as a wing-like sail that would drive the ship at sea. In low-wind passages it would be equipped with a liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered engine.

Lade estimates that fuel consumption would be only 60% of a similarly sized freighter using conventional propulsion.

Carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 80 percent, according to calculations by the Norwegian company.

Lade has already tested the ship’s hull design in wind tunnels and says the freighter could be ready to set sail as soon as 2019. First, the ship model has to pass numerous tests in a marine research model tank – also called a towing tank. 

Not only would the ship be good for the environment it would improve profitability of shipping lines, Lade says:

International shipping is transporting 90 percent of all goods on earth. Running on heavy fuel oil freighters contribute to pollution. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) wants to reduce the environmental impact of ocean liners. One of the measures: Starting from 2020, ships will only be allowed to use fuel containing maximum 0.1 percent sulfur in their fuel in certain areas. However, the higher-quality fuel with less sulfur is more expensive than the heavy fuel oil which is currently used. Shipping companies are thus facing a major challenge in reducing their fuel costs while complying with the emission guidelines.



Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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