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Revival of the Modern Wing Sails for the Propulsion of Commercial Ships

Authors: Pravesh Chandra Shukla, Kunal Ghosh


Over 90% of the world trade is carried by the international shipping industry. As most of the countries are developing, seaborne trade continues to expand to bring benefits for consumers across the world. Studies show that world trade will increase 70-80% through shipping in the next 15-20 years. Present global fleet of 70000 commercial ships consumes approximately 200 million tonnes of diesel fuel a year and it is expected that it will be around 350 million tonnes a year by 2020. It will increase the demand for fuel and also increase the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. So, it-s essential to control this massive fuel consumption and CO2 emission. The idea is to utilize a diesel-wind hybrid system for ship propulsion. Use of wind energy by installing modern wing-sails in ships can drastically reduce the consumption of diesel fuel. A huge amount of wind energy is available in oceans. Whenever wind is available the wing-sails would be deployed and the diesel engine would be throttled down and still the same forward speed would be maintained. Wind direction in a particular shipping route is not same throughout; it changes depending upon the global wind pattern which depends on the latitude. So, the wing-sail orientation should be such that it optimizes the use of wind energy. We have made a computer programme in which by feeding the data regarding wind velocity, wind direction, ship-motion direction; we can find out the best wing-sail position and fuel saving for commercial ships. We have calculated net fuel saving in certain international shipping routes, for instance, from Mumbai in India to Durban in South Africa. Our estimates show that about 8.3% diesel fuel can be saved by utilizing the wind. We are also developing an experimental model of the ship employing airfoils (small scale wingsail) and going to test it in National Wind Tunnel Facility in IIT Kanpur in order to develop a control mechanism for a system of airfoils.

Keywords: Wind Direction, Wind Velocity, Commercial ships, Wind diesel hybrid system, Wing-sail

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

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