The ship and sail

DTU Wind Energy involved in sail designed especially for cargo ships

Thursday 12 Dec 19


Jens Nørkær Sørensen
DTU Wind Energy
+45 45 25 43 14

A group of researchers from DTU Wind Energy have helped develop a sail designed especially for use in maritime transport. The aim is to reduce global CO2 emissions by two to three per cent.

How do you get a large cargo ship to sail with zero emission? A group of researchers, including some from DTU Wind Energy, have investigated this in the project entitled Wing Powered Ship 'Liberty'.

DTU Wind Energy together with the company Caponetto Hüber (Valencia) has carried out an initial proof of concept for the company Blue Technology. DTU Wind Energy has successfully optimised the blade design so that an additional 46 per cent of energy can be extracted from the wind compared to the original design. This allows for the possibility of the ship to be propelled 100 per cent by the wings, and that it can generate surplus energy at wind speeds above 8 m / s. In fact, we have a solution for a zero emission cargo ship of a considerable size, which is completely self-sufficient with energy.

Sufficient with wind energy 

“We have developed a calculation model and made calculations of the sails’ aerodynamics, that is, the forces acting on the sails,” says Jens Nørkær Sørensen, project manager for the project at DTU Wind Energy. He elaborates:

“In this way we have been able to calculate the ship's speed and potential for fuel savings. Among other things, we have shown that, under favourable wind conditions, an 8000 ton cargo can be driven forward at a speed of up to 25-28 knots.”

The sails used in the project are specially designed sails shaped as wing profiles with flaps, known from aeroplanes.

“We look forward to following the project and assisting Blue Technology, which is working to establish a Joint Industry Project, which will end with a 17 metre demonstrator, and thereby achieve a TRL6 (EU Technology Readiness Level six) that can provide access to financing a 170 metre cargo ship with a capacity of more than 2000 passenger cars, ”says Brian Boserup of Blue Technology.