Tag Archives: ships

Skysails – Using wind to increase the power to ships

Sails like this can cut fuel use dramatically, as well as looking very coolThe Oil Drum has a fascinating article on the new developments by the German company SkySails. Their system flies a kite the size of a football field above a normal cargo vessel or tanker. The kites fly around 1000 metres up, where winds are higher and can help pull the ship along, cutting fuel needs and increasing speed. A German cargo firm, Beluga, will be making the first voyage using a SkySail this month.

“It marks the beginning of a revolution in the way that ships are powered,” said Stephan Wrage, the inventor of the SkySails idea. “We calculate that the sails can reduce fuel consumption by between 30 and 50 per cent, depending on the wind conditions. “The system could be applied to about 60,000 vessels out of the 100,000 or so listed in the Lloyd’s register. Bulk carriers, tankers — they could all benefit from the flying sails.”

The kite is computer controlled to get the best of the wind available and is attached to a rail running around the edge of the ship’s hull. The first test will use a 160 square metre sail and aim to save around 15% of available fuel. In later products the company aims to scale up to sails as big as 5000 square metres able to boost the speed of the biggest cargo vessel. With the kite sail pulling, the ship is able to spend less on the increasingly costly bunker fuel needed for engines. A US company, KiteSail, also produces a similar technology aimed more at the leisure market.

[via The Oil Drum]

A better way to detect ship-killing rogue waves

roguewave Sailors have told tales for centuries of giant waves arising in calm seas and swamping boats unlucky enough to get caught in them. Scientists knew better, of course, and said such stories were simply myths–until recent studies confirmed that these giant rogue waves not only exist, they exist in higher numbers than anyone expected.

The photo above is a rare image of a rogue wave, taken by first mate Philippe Lijour aboard the supertanker Esso Languedoc during a storm off Durban in South Africa in 1980. The mast at far right stands 25 metres above mean sea level; mean wave height at the time was between five and 10 metres. The wave approached the ship from behind before breaking over the deck, but caused only minor damage. (Image: Philippe Lijour via ESA.)

Now a researcher at the Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid, in collaboration with the German research centre GKSS, has come up with a software tool that can allow ships to detect approaching giant waves in time to prepare for their arrival. (Via ScienceDaily.)

The same tool may also have environmental uses: it could be used to predict the exact trajectory of oil spills, for instance.

Meanwhile, somewhere an Ancient Mariner is muttering, “Told you so.”

Here’s a column I wrote on rogue waves a few years ago.

[tags]ocean, rogue waves, ships, technology[/tags]