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The Potential Of Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion Engineering Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Engineering
Wordcount: 4507 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Wind is present all around the world, and in some places with abundant energy density. Wind had been extensively used in the past, for mechanical power in addition to transportation (J.F. Manwell and J.G. McGowan, A.L. Rogers (2009)).Wind energy has evolved into one of the most practical, cost-effective and both environmentally and technically attractive, of all the renewable energy options in the world. So the wind energy has a lot of potential at sea for assisting in ships propulsion. Wind is the cheapest, most powerful, and greenest source of energy on the high seas.

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The accelerating fuel costs over the last decade have led to growing interest in the application of wind assistance for ship propulsion and reduce fossil fuel consumption. Using wind energy for propulsion of ships in sea is in fact one of mankind’s oldest ocean-going technologies. In one-way or another, with modern advances in ship design and propulsion the use of wind energy was almost forgotten “Sail systems were the dominant form of propulsion until the 19th century” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_propulsion) Astrophysicist Carl again writes, for example, that: the consequences of scientific illiteracy are far more dangerous in our time than in any that has come before. It’s perilous and foolhardy for the average citizen to remain ignorant about global warming, say, or ozone depletion, air pollution, toxic and radioactive wastes, acid rain, topsoil erosion, tropical deforestation, exponential growth….How can we affect national policy… if we don’t understand the underlying issues?

Aim and Objectives:

The main of the project is to analysis into the potential of Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion (WASP) and its application into the modern day shipping. WASP systems will be explained, analysed by showing its benefits and drawbacks. The applications and possible benefits of the use of the WASP will also be investigated showing all the relevant factors that are affected by the use of WASP.

The key objectives are summarized as:

Research into present and evolution of WASP systems,

Potential of present WASP system and their applications.

Advantages and future development of WASP systems

Discussion of economic and environmental factors

Analysis into the use of alternative energy sources at sea.

Evaluation of WASP by application to a case study

Critical analyse into all findings to produce a logical and well founded conclusion.


The following are the remaining WASP Systems in use at present in the sea


Flettner Rotor Rig

Soft Sail

Towing Kites (Skysails)

Wind Turbine (Skysails)

Aerofoil (Wing-Sail):

This form of marine propulsion works in the similar way as an aeroplane wing, producing pressure differences between opposite sides which create a force , supported by central mast. The trust provided by the solid structures of the sail is more with less drag than conventional sails.

This technology came into wide development in 1980s by Japanese and still some vessels use this technology nowadays with research into the application of such systems proceeding. Various research is been carried out and one of the example using this aerofoil concept is this ship model which is called the ecoliner. It is a type of cargo vessel which propels by using combination of high-tech sail and engine power. This combined feature, make it possible to work like a normal cargo ship with similar service of speed, freight price and other factors. Using this ecoliners , as ocean transports will decrease the pollution emissions to 50% of the ship. MV Ashington vessel is a bulk carrier which has auxiliary propulsion with the use aerodynamic wing sail. (http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=823976) “A computer controlled wingsail fitted to the 6,500 dwt dry cargo ship ‘mv Ashington’ resulted in a fuel savings average of 8% and, under favourable circumstances, of up to 20%. ” (http://www.maritimejournal.com/features101/power-and-propulsion/wingsail_ready_for_small_commercial_vessels)

The wing-sail have two significant drawbacks which are considered. First one is that the moments coupled with the lift forces which produce the propulsion also can create a large aerodynamic drag force which acts as a huge drawback when “sailing directly into a head wind”(Clayton, 1987).Rigid sails then usually themselves into the wind direction when no force can be created while some design allow the surface to be folded using hydraulic controls such that the direction can be controlled.

In general wing-sails have a high lift coefficient compared to soft sails which will be discussed in further topics. This means this system has more advantage over the other conventional sails even though initial investment in the system will be high. Various designs now incorporate a frame with a material surface to keep the minimum weight.

Flettner Rotor Rig:

Flettner rotors consist of cylinders which are of spinning type and tall mounted onto the vessel’s deck. The vessel is set in motion by using the Magnus effect. The Magnus effect is produced whenever pressure difference occurring around spinning object. This concept was done by researcher Anton Flettner, a German naval architect. Later researchers conducted experimenting into its operation in 1980 when Saudi oil crisis happened. But this system never overtook the diesel engine usage. However in the 1920s Fletner rotor operated in sea for a quiet a long year proving reliable form of wind propulsion.

To understand this system works, an understanding of the Magnus effect is necessary. The Magnus effect or force happens when there is a pressure difference around a spinning object. Because of this change in boundary later around this object happens, a lift force is generated in direct propulsion to the “acceleration it imparts on the air streaming by” (Seufert, 1983). This lift force happens due to Bernoulli’s principle; this use of the principle is highly effective and is described as practicable.

Soft Sail:

Soft Sail system consists of two main types, the modern square rig and the fore and aft rig. The square rig is the most efficient running rig and useful to longer routes with more constant and foreseeable winds.Fore and aft rig type is suitable to short routes, where the wind speed and direction be unlike. In modern day shipping the soft sails is not used, because of its large propulsion of deck space and needs constant manning.

The reason for this is because the other types of sailing systems are more effective and efficient compared to these soft sails. The sky sail lakes large portion of deck space and always need constant manning. With deck space is considered more important for carrying cargos in present shipping world, it makes less effective in use and outweighs the advantages of any soft sail systems. The future of ship propulsion may consider this soft sail with combining with other types of propulsion to take advantages and use it in a efficient way. However there are some smaller vessels like fishing boats still depend on soft sails as an auxiliary propulsion force and the uses of soft sail are important in this fishing boats

Towing Kites (Skysails):

Towing Kites function on same basis as several conventional kite arrangements used on such things as Paragliding and kite boarding, etc. the propulsion of the vessel is assisted by the kite which harness the energy from wind.

Since wind-conditions are not always sufficient, the Skysails system is designed to function as a supplementary power source, in addition to the ship’s engine. Skysail consists of a towing kite, a control system, a launch and recovery system and a wind-optimized routing system. The Para foil kite is constructed out of high-strength, weatherproof textiles, and is designed in such a way that it can achieve optimal aerodynamic efficiency at any wind speed.

The steering system operates automatically and is composed of the control pod and the control system. The towing kite and the towing rope are linked by the control pod. Much like autopilot systems in airplanes, the Skysails sensors collect data that is processed by the system’s software, which sends control orders accordingly.

The launch and recovery system is responsible for automatically recovering and launching the towing kite, control pod and towing rope. The kite is attached at only one point to the launch and recovery mast, enabling high manoeuvrability. A telescopic mast lifts the towing kite during its launch. The wind unfolds the kite to its full size while the reef system launches the reef ropes. While the towing kite is decoupled from the launch and recovery mast, the towing rope is released.

The power transmission system consists of a towing rope, a force transmission point (tow point), and winch, and is responsible for transferring the tractive force from the kite to the ship. The mounting system ensures that the towing kite’s force is aligned ideally to suit the wind’s direction.

The routing system is composed of a weather forecasting performance calculator, which processes the weather forecasting data and of a decision-making model, which calculates the optimal route following priorities set by the ship’s owner. Finally, the routing system has a route recommendation feature, which translates the information into a series of waypoints read by the shipmaster.

The SkySails system also improves the ship’s safety and performance on water as it damps the waves so that the ship suffers from less slamming and torsion forces. In addition, as a result of smoother sailing, the ship’s “life” is extended. A short video of a ship equipped with the SkySails system is available


The steering system of skysail operates automatically meaning that there is no input need via crew, just observation. The skysail system will have a control pod situated on the high strength towing rope and the kite. This pod changes the profile of the kite such that it ultimately controls its flyting path in line with ship needed direction.


Wind turbines are widely used in land; however it has not yet been applied on at large scale in the shipping industry. Wind turbines at sea could perform two functions as electricity generation and in aid of propulsion. The drawback using wind turbine is it will be ineffective at no wind and counterproductive at high wind conditions.many smaller vessels have used wind turbines directly connected through gearbox to the propeller. But large vessels need large size machine to drive the generators which makes complex engineering to make it work stable. Also this system will need more time to get fitted, assembled such that it means it will be suitable for future vessels.

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The use and development of WASP systems in the modern day shipping should be considered to make an adequate conclusion .At present WASP system are at very small percentage of the global marine transportation industry. The different types of systems are already present in use various ships and also in small vessels such that it makes easy to have a very good potential in upcoming years since the price of fossil fuels hikes and also they pollute the air which made global impact to cut the harmful exists of these pollution.by looking at the advantages and the usefulness of WASP systems and its drawbacks, various factors related to it can be analysed. The further topics will discuss about the advantages and applications of these systems.


WASP is already in place for long ago in small vessels like boats in fishing industry. Currently WASP is present in less in global marine industry but it’s still considered as notable, potential system to avoid fossil fuels.by analysis the various factors and cases, understanding can be done greater.

Oil crisis happened in 1970s and 1980s , the Japanese were very conscious and tried to look into alternative to the field of ship propulsion and some 17 sail- assisted tankers were produced with all having similar design. The first vessel with name “Shin-Aitoku-Maru” (DWT: 1600), in 1980 reached 11knots speed when the sea and ship conditions were good. These sails travelled in sea during that oil crisis but later the oil prices dropped down again .this made the diesel engines to overcome those sails and the marine industry discarded to use the systems .however the environmental concern arrived in 2010 regarding water and air pollution due to the fossil fuel .this play a massive role to change the world to look into alternative energy sources that can be used in sea and imposing rules and regulations on various pollution factors.


The application of WASP systems are vastly used in fishing industry in smaller vessels. Many American and European boats have small auxiliary soft sails but they are used rarely. Large commercial fishing vessels does not utilise wind at all, since it would be impractical most often. They increase work load on crew with others factors including cost of the equipment and less knowledge to use the system of WASP will make it difficult to use it.

It can be seen in statistics that WASP could be used in fishing fleet to a greater extent that actually works. By looking at historical research, wind has been used ad earlier way of propulsion when no engines exists. The transaction from the main form of propulsion changing from wing to coal- fire propulsion units took place so quick over a time spam of 30 years. However increase in price of fuel and pressure to reduce fuel consumption. Skysails are used by Wessels’s Sipping Company on three vessels where some good results have ben obtained.


Although climate change has occurred since the creation of the Earth today it represents a setback to a society that grew in the last two centuries to over 7 billion with an associated energy demand based primarily on the consumption of fossil fuels. The global population is expected to peak at 9.2 billion around 2075, while social development is desired to continue.so it’s important that WASP could be used in various ships propulsion. WASP may not be a good solution in making all vessels more efficient and reduce fuel consumption. But some vessels use the benefit of this systems.in recent years Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULC) and Very Large Crude Carriers (VLC) dominates the transport of crude oil and the benefits of WASP on such kind of carriers are hard to be seen in practice.

But smaller carriers may benefit from WASP technology and vessels which run on lower speed can use this type of propulsion to reduce fuel consumption. For example, steam coal and iron ore are usually stored on a very large scale before the resource is even utilised. In that case the vessels can carry them with the use of WASP which can produce 11-13 knots speed and its practicable.


One of the weapons used by all vessels, the WASP combat is essentially highly advanced missiles that contain a variety of sub munitions. The computer that controls each one is also able to analyse tactical situations and plot the best path to achieve your goal and ensure success. The WASP has a maximum acceleration of 20g when using standard fusion fuel. This acceleration and speeds allows the WASP conditions for manoeuvre and more power. This speed advantage and acceleration allows you to run more.

In addition to attacking enemy ships or space stations, WASP combat can also be used as a defines drones. In this mission profile, WASP can also be used as thermonuclear warheads or anti-matter ahead of the enemy.

The health and economic impacts

In this area, we are only beginning to understand the true extent of the consequences on utilization of WASP systems. Intuitively there is an accumulation of pollutants through the food chain and possibly in our drinking water supplies. But, according to Technical Document Management Measures National Pollution Control Environmental Protection Agencies, published in November 2001, petrol, oil, diesel fuel, and batteries and acidic cleaning compounds, and solvents involved in the maintenance of the boats ( as methylene chloride, tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene, and trichlorethylene) trickle in lakes, rivers and coastal areas, and many of these pollutants, particularly some of the heavy metals are attached to sediments and are eventually found in the food chain through either plankton or other organisms and then concentrated through the food chain, being a major environmental threat as well as a big human health problem when it comes to fish consumption. The high speed of supply and refuelling system used by WASP does not mask the problems caused by liquid spills and toxic gases; rather, it completely solves the problems.


There are economic consequences for the marine industry. The short-term impacts that cause direct financial costs are cleaning and punitive actions associated with them. Over time, the waters are much polluted, further legislative measures are introduced. Clean water is essential for multibillion dollar industry.



Supply system by WASP system is a high-speed refilling helps the environment in many respects, eliminating damage caused by other products refuelling. This product eliminates the smoke harmful gas that gives off the oil, polluting the air. It eliminates the greenhouse gases that pollute the earth and our ozone layer. This system prevents leaks that harm the soil. There was never a supply system created before can eliminate all kinds of damage, and that works without causing pollution. The high speed of supply and refuelling system using the WASP does not mask the problems caused by liquid spills and toxic gases, however, solve them by complete.

Most of the damage caused by the emission engines and oil leaks comes from petroleum. Small leaks, despite being isolated events tend to occur every day around the world, they are, gallons of oil pollution in our waters. A small fuel leak affects a disproportionate amount of water on the surface of the ocean. In the UK the legal limit leaking oil and one drop of oil for every 2 litres of water in a proportion of 15mg per litre. Therefore, a single litre of oil can contaminate one million litres of water. And this is a chronic problem to be solved, and the reaction of sunlight, the chemicals become infinitely more toxic, and prolonged exposure affects thousands of fish species and a myriad of creatures such as shellfish, marine plants and damage as algae and their reproduction when exposed to oil. And the old trick of using soap or detergents to make the brightness ‘disappear’, is not only illegal, but it only makes pollution worse, and eventually adding surfactants to the mixture, which attach to the gills of fish and destroy their ability to breathe. The effect is catastrophic. And, as if that were not enough, the increase in population drives the development of the industry, and a lot of pressure on the marine environment. The impact on marine life inevitably leads to an impact on human health.

WASP Systems are specialized in projects for supply, installation and commissioning of water systems and wastewater treatment systems, gray water recycling, along with some simple write-downs and innovative energy systems.

The system creates a vacuum seal ventilating, and dramatically reduces the incidence of unintended leakage of gas that would normally escape to the atmosphere. The main advantage of the invention is that it allows the filling very quickly, which will significantly reduce operating costs for operators of vessels and facilities loading terminals. Applications for the WASP system will focus initially on three distinct segments in the market within the maritime industry: nautical recreation, navigation and commercial refuelling (as tugs, barges, ferries and commercial vessels), and loading of liquid cargo from ships that cross oceans. The deployment of this system in the world will eliminate millions of tons of harmful particles of gas to the atmosphere, and prevent millions of gallons of fuel from spreading into watercourses .freighters with this product, which is able to increase the delivery time cargo 100% and thus may reduce the time spent in each vessel terminals.

We can shorten the terminal for vessels which reduces the rate per ton of whole load of liquid therefore increase the amount of deliveries for all vessels. We can reduce the waiting time for vessels which reduces the rate per ton of whole load of liquid therefore increase the amount of deliveries to all ships refuelling and increased how it works at high speeds. Our product also eliminates many greenhouse gases and gases hazardous to health that are associated with refuelling which in turn becomes safer for everyone to use our product to refuel. Currently we are working together this time with a major oil company and help them in their oils movement worldwide.

6.2 Economic factors

Economic factors in the application of WASP freighters These ships can perform rapid sustained combat operations at sea as a centrepiece strategy. To carry out its core mission, WASP has a support system that synchronizes the simultaneous horizontal and vertical flow of cargo and vehicles throughout the ship. The ship propulsion can generate a total of 400 tons of steam per hour. If the energy of the two boilers were converted into electrical current could power a city of 160,000 inhabitants. Electric generators aboard a ship can provide more than 16,000 kilowatts of energy. Two stations provide a capacity of 450,000 litres to 200,000 litres of water per day supply.

Chapter 5: Case Study

5.1: MS Beluga Skysails

MS Beluga Skysails with its computer-controlled kite (top right corner)

One of the latest innovations in the heavy cargo ship which increases fuel prices has been a return to wind power. The MS Beluga SkySails is a heavy carrier that uses a towing kite system as part of its propulsion systems. The ship was launched and followed early sea trials in the North Sea in January 2008, the vessel embarked on its maiden voyage from Bremerhaven, Columbuskaje to Guanta, Venezuela. On route, the efficiency of the system was applicable in winds of up to force five for 8 hours a day. The system was hailed as a success, with calculated savings of up to 2.5t of fuel/$1,000 a day. With larger sails of 600m², fuel savings can get up to 35%, possible.


The system has been developed by SkySails SkySails GmbH and Co. KG. The Beluga SkySails was equipped to navigate with a candle paraglider 160m ². The area of ​​the kite can be increased to 320m². A pipe controlled by computer, is connected to the ship by a system of rope. The system can control the kite at altitudes between 100m and 500m to maximize the benefit of the wind. With oil prices so high, a cargo ship 87m average could save about € 300,000 a year. The system can potentially be adjusted to any ship. The overall reduction of carbon dioxide transport arrives at an estimate of considerable million tons per year.

The BBC said there is something magical, a giant cargo ship being pulled on its way to the sea with ten thousand tons of metal, and with the sun shining giant masts. But there is something even more magical about the MS Beluga SkySails. On the face of it, this ship – leading, for example, parts of a production line of wood to Venezuela – looks like any other cargo ship. MS Beluga SkySails believes its fuel bill will be cut by £ 800 ($ 1,560) a day. “We can demonstrate that it is possible to combine economy and ecology,” says Verena Frank of Beluga Shipping, and explains, “Economy, because you can reduce consumption and fuel costs and, moreover, contribute to ecology, reducing emissions carbon dioxide. “the kite is controlled by computers. a computer helps to make it fly, and maximize the power it produces, the other computer adjusts the direction of the kite. If the project is successful, we expect to see kites even higher very soon – sum up to 5,000 square feet in size, pulling ships across the seas and oceans.


Steve Rosenberg explains, “See how the ship kite works: of all the CO2 that is pumped into the atmosphere today, 4% comes from ships. That’s more than the aviation industry, mainly because 90% of world trade is done by sea. The MS Beluga SkySails believes it has the solution environmentally, with a mission to transform the green oceans. Once the ship reaches the open sea, reveals a new weapon in the fight against global warming: a kite. The 160m2 kite is hoisted on a mast and for half an hour or so, he stands there at the top of the mast, not making a big thing. The wind and certainly a wonderful thing, because it only needs a bit of wind to make everything else work. Half an hour later, however, the wind makes the kite start to fly hundreds of feet in the air – and helping to pull the ship. The paragliding and synonym of power to the engines of the ship, so you can work on reduced power: which means less carbon emissions. It also means lower bills in fuel costs. With the price of transportation fuel that has doubled in the past two years, paragliding promises great savings.

How the Ship-Parrot

The kite helps reduce annual fuel costs 10-35%. Fuel economy also means fewer carbon emissions harmful to the atmosphere. The large towing kite resembles a glider and is shaped like an airplane wing, so you can take advantage of different wind directions. The kite operates at 100-300m above the surface – much larger than a normal sailing boat – where winds are stronger and more stable. The kite can be used in winds of 12-74 km / h (or 7 to 40 knots).

The Technology

Skysail Graphic


Tom Schueneman, MS Beluga SkySails Completes Her Maiden Voyage (February 6th, 2008) http://www.ship-technology.com/projects/msbelugaskysails/

Steve Rosenberg, BBC News, Bremerhaven, northern Germany, Gone with the wind on ‘kite ship’ (September, 2012) – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7205217.stm


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