Editorial Feature

Windship Technology’s True Zero Emission Shipping Technology

Since 2013, global shipping carbon emissions have been gradually increasing. Image Credit: Alex Marakhovets/Shutterstock.com

Windship Technology has revealed a novel ship design, promising to be the first economically viable zero-emission ship. With increasing pressure on the shipping industry to curb its growing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the project could prove a pivotal moment for the industry's future.

The latest design eliminates CO2, Nox, Sox, and particulate matter, while it has also recorded a remarkable two-digit percentage improvement in aerodynamic performance compared to previous concepts.

As emphasized by Lars Carlsson, director of Windship Technology, “Shipping is not fit for purpose in the future. Shipping and oil companies are the only major industries still increasing their emissions”. Therefore, the company's latest achievement represents a significant milestone in the campaign to cut these emissions on a global scale.

The IMO Target

Shipping has long been established as the most efficient means of transporting goods internationally

Carbon emissions caused by shipping reached 1135 million tons in 2008. Since 2013, the emissions have been showing a gradual rise as the global economy recovers from recession.

In response to these findings, it was announced by the IMO that shipping emissions must be cut by 50% of the 2008 figures by 2050. However, when considering the shipping industry is projected to grow by 250% in this time, this translates to an even more significant challenge, requiring a reduction of current ship emissions by 80% if this objective is to be met.

Given the average lifespan of a cargo ship, the development of commercially viable, zero-emission ships must become a priority now for our global shipping fleet to meet the 2050 regulations. This urgency has been recognized by Windship Technology and has driven its campaign.

The Shipping Industry May Finally Be Turning To Wind Power (HBO)

Video Credit: VICE News/YouTube.com

Windship Technology’s Zero-Emission Shipping Solution

Windship Technology’s proposed solution is a patented triple-wing rig to harness wind power, driving a diesel-electric system. Combined with large solar arrays, carbon capture technology, an aerodynamically optimized hull, and weather routing software, the design is a fully integrated approach to improved efficiency and emission reduction, differentiating it from any previous zero-emission shipping concepts.

The iconic 48 m and 35 m-high rigs have been developed and tested at Southampton’s Wolfson Unit maritime consultancy's tank, in collaboration with marine fluid dynamic specialists Cape Horn Engineering. Cape Horn Engineering reported that “almost 1,000, high-fidelity CFD simulations were performed and analysed.”

The simulations were used to set up force models to describe the vessel’s hydrodynamic and aerodynamic behavior. The result of this was a two-digit percentage increase in the aerodynamic performance of the wing assembly with a recorded driving force several times greater than any current rigged shipping solutions of this size. Therefore, this will enable significant fuel and emission reductions to achieve the required cruising speeds.

This reduction in emissions is increased further by installing a carbon capture system in the engine drive. All greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, are eliminated, gaining the Windship true zero-emission status.

Despite this evident achievement, managing director of Cape Horn Engineering, Rodrigo Azcueta, attributes the real success in achieving a commercially viable concept to the integrated optimization of wing and hull design.

“Wind propulsion systems and ship design are currently considered as two entities; hence they are designed independently,” states Azcueta. “It is reasonable to believe that they should be designed as a whole from the earliest stage, due to the dependency of each aspect on the other. The optimisation process and predicted potential performance will determine the optimal operational points resulting in the lowest required engine power, fuel consumption and total emissions”. As such, the rigs are stowable on the deck, and consideration has been given throughout to the design of hull features to offset any transverse instability caused by the sails.

What Does This Mean for The Future of Shipping?

As highlighted by the table produced by ICCT, international shipping is the most significant producer of carbon emissions in the maritime industry, accounting for 87% in 2015. The Windship project aims to create a pathway to zero-emission shipping for bulk carriers and tankers, targeting the industry's most crucial sector to meet IMO’s 2050 emissions target.

A critical step in doing so has been to firstly provide a clear, unbiased, and detailed analysis of the technologies available. This has formed a key focus of the research undertaken by Cape Horn Engineering, according to Azcueta.

The evidence most recently presented has helped identify the potential savings businesses could make with implementing sustainable propulsion systems. It is hoped that emphasizing the possible fuel savings of implementing wind power technology will encourage greater technology uptake globally.

The most recent tests carried out by the Southampton facility have predicted that, for a 125,000-ton deadweight vessel, employment of Windship’s rigs alone would yield a 30% reduction in annual fuel costs and emissions.

The sails' composite structure has been inspired by that used within the established wind turbine industry, giving reassurance of the viable supply chain for such materials and the guaranteed operational lifespan of at least 25 years.

Further Plans for Windship Technology

Fueled by the success of its recent test results and the illustrated commercial viability, the Windship project continues to gather momentum with the announcement of a significant investment by accredited registrar and classification society DNV. The company will now commence an in-depth evaluation and verification process of the proposed design with the agreement of continued support as the project moves forward.

This will be a critical step for the company to verify its true zero-emission shipping status, with a simulation model now in development to verify DNV's emission reduction capabilities.

The company reports that it is now seeking to form partnerships with key maritime stakeholders and ship owners. “As an investment case, the solution appeals to asset owners looking to secure their investments over the lifespan of a ship’s working life and is attracting significant investor interest in the financial markets,” Windship Technology said.

Regardless of the financial possibilities offered to investors, the key message from director Lars Carlsson is clear: “The industry cannot sit back any longer. The clock is ticking and regulation will force a new approach for an industry that is traditionally hesitant to change”. At present, the Windship system is the only viable concept that will enable bulk carriers to meet the imposed regulations.

References and Further Reading

Dixon, G. (2021) Windship and DNV unveil 'first true zero-emissions' design. [Online] Tradewinds. Available at: https://windshiptechnology.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Windship-and-DNV-unveil-first-true-zero-emissions-design-_-TradeWinds_Feb_2021.pdf (Accessed on 27 February 2021).

Harper, G. (2020) IMO Advances Measures to Reduce Emissions from International Shipping. [Online] Available at: https://sdg.iisd.org/news/imo-advances-measures-to-reduce-emissions-from-international-shipping/. (Accessed on 27 February 2021).

Hong, L. (2020) Use of fluid mechanics improves efficiency of wind-assisted ships. [Online] SeaTrade Maritime News. Available at: https://www.seatrade-maritime.com/technology/use-fluid-mechanics-improves-efficiency-wind-assisted-ships (Accessed on 27 February 2021).

Hughes, L. (2021) Windship: Study confirms fuel and emissions reductions on rigged bulker. [Online] Ship Energy. Available at: https://ship.energy/2021/03/01/windship-study-confirms-fuel-and-emissions-reductions-on-rigged-bulker / (Accessed on 1 March 2021).

IMO (2020) Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships. [Online] IMO. Available at: https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/HotTopics/Pages/Reducing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-ships.aspx. (Accessed on 27 February 2021).

Marine Link (2021) Windship Technology Unveils Emissions-free Ship Design. [Online] Marine Link. Available at: https://www.marinelink.com/news/windship-technology-unveils-emissionsfree-485187 (Accessed on 27 February 2021).

Neill, P. (2021) Windship Technology unveils new zero-emission ship. [Online] Environmental Journal. Available at: https://environmentjournal.online/articles/windship-technology-unveils-new-zero-emission-ship/ (Accessed on 27 February 2021)

Olmer, N. et al. (2017) Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Global Shipping, 2013–2015. [Online] The International Council on Clean Transports. Available at: https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/Global-shipping-GHG-emissions-2013-2015_ICCT-Report_17102017_vF.pdf  (Accessed on 27 February 2021).

Ship Technology (2021) Windship Technology introduces new zero-emission ship design. [Online] Ship Technology. Available at: https://www.ship-technology.com/news/windship-technology-zero-emission-ship-design/ (Accessed on 27 February 2021).

Windship Technology (2020) How does it work? [Online] Available at: https://windshiptechnology.com/solutions/ (Accessed on 27 February 2021).

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Bea Howarth

Written by

Bea Howarth

Bea is an aerospace engineering graduate from the University of Liverpool. Having discovered a particular interest in the applications of novel technology within engineering, she began writing for AZoNework during her third year of university to pursue this passion with an increased commercial focus. She will soon begin a graduate role in a manufacturing technology company, for which sustainability and efficiency optimization are at the heart of all operations.

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