Innovative project of ultramodern sails for ships

Inspenet, April 3, 2023

The University of Southampton ‘s innovative Winds of Change project proposes to outfit huge ships with state-of-the-art sails to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment.

The project will evaluate the feasibility of using this type of device to propel the boats. This is a way to promote the decarbonization of the maritime industry. To carry it out, funds from Innovate UK were used.

It is intended to create software tools that allow you to accurately predict how these wings will perform. For now, work is being done using the FastRig sail model as a reference, a 20-meter-high retractable nautical wing adapted to the commercial ship Pacific Grebe, a 105-meter-long British merchandise freighter. The British company Smart Green Shipping has developed the sail prototypes for two years and the project is in the evaluation phase.

Leading the project is Dr Joseph Banks of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute , who mentions that the shipping industry needs to be decarbonised quickly. “Wind-powered ships are obviously nothing new – but almost all large ships operating today are powered by fossil fuels, leaving a lasting mark on the environment,” Banks explained to EurekAlert!.

For the UK it is important to develop technology to maintain maritime fleets powered by clean energy. This is why Innovative UK and the Department for Transport support the Winds of Change project. Those directly involved in developing it are the University of Southampton and Smart Green Shipping .

“While new wind assist technologies are being developed, many are not market ready and their predicted fuel savings have not been independently verified at sea, so UK-funded research projects such as this they are so important,” says Dr. Banks.

According to Doctor Banks, this project will bring benefits to the communities where these types of vessels work. They will not harm the ocean environment and the air quality in port cities will improve. An additional advantage is that sail-powered vehicles will be quieter than current ships.

“Our team will investigate the complex interactions between the wing sails and the hydrodynamics of the ship, which will allow accurate predictions of the ship’s performance that will be compared with the Pacific Grebe demonstration ship as part of the project,” says the specialist.

The Southampton developers are confident that their devices will be the beginning of a new generation of technology for shipping. Although it may seem like part of a forgotten shipping tradition, sails can be the vanguard in promoting carbon-free shipping.

Source :

Image : Prototype of maritime sails. Credit: Smart Green Shipping.

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