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August 23, 2023

Wind-Powered Cargo Ship Sets Sail - The Future of Cargo Shipping

Are wind-powered cargo ships the future? WindWings could be the key to zero-carbon shipping!

What are wind-powered cargo ships?

A freighter has set sail using WindWings sails, an innovation focused on boosting fuel economy and championing green practices.

The ship, leased by the maritime company Cargill, boasts prominent UK-engineered rigid sails dubbed WindWings.

This advancement seeks to lower fuel usage, aligning with the sector's increasing dedication to curbing carbon dioxide releases.

This ground breaking approach taps into wind energy to supplement conventional propulsion techniques.

BAR Technologies' CEO, John Cooper, remarked, "For global shipping to meet its goal of cutting carbon dioxide outputs, we need to embrace novel solutions.

"Wind offers an almost cost-neutral energy source, and the potential for emission reductions, coupled with notable savings in ship operational expenses, is immense."

According to Cargill, when this system is applied on standard international routes, it can save up to 1.5 tonnes of fuel every day for each WindWing.

How much fuel does a cargo ship use?

The fuel consumption and energy use of a cargo ship can vary widely based on its size, type, age, speed, and other factors. However, I can provide some general figures to give you an idea:

Type of Fuel: Most large cargo ships use Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), also known as bunker fuel. Some newer ships might use cleaner fuels like Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (LSFO) or even Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), but HFO remains the most common.

Fuel Consumption:

Panamax Container Ship (typically with a capacity of around 5,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units or TEUs): These ships might consume around 63 tons of fuel per day.

Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCV, with a capacity of 10,000 TEUs or more): These can consume 150-200 tons of fuel per day or even more, depending on their size and speed.

This means that cargo ships can use between 63 and 200 tonnes of fuel per day, depending on the size, speed and weight of the ship.

Energy Content:

Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) has an energy content of approximately 40.5 MJ/kg. So, if a Panamax ship consumes 63 tons (or 63,000 kg) of HFO per day, it's using about 2,551,500 MJ or 2.55 TJ (terajoules) of energy per day.

For a ULCV consuming 150 tons of HFO per day, it's using about 6,075,000 MJ or 6.08 TJ of energy per day.

Speed and Consumption: Fuel consumption increases with speed. For instance, a ship travelling at 24 knots might consume 50% more fuel than when it's travelling at 20 knots.

How much CO2 do cargo ships release?

Annual Emissions

If a Panamax ship operates for 280 days a year (considering some days for maintenance, docking, etc.):

Annual CO2 Emissions = 196 tons of CO2/day × 280 days/year = 54,880 tons of CO2/year

For a ULCV operating the same number of days:

Annual CO2 Emissions = 466.5 tons of CO2/day × 280 days/year = 130,620 tons of CO2/year

Per Container

If you want to break this down per container, you'd need to know the number of containers the ship carries, and the distance travelled. For instance, a Panamax ship might carry around 5,000 TEUs. So, for a one-day journey:

CO2 Emissions per TEU = 196 tons of CO2/day ÷ 5,000 TEUs = 0.0392 tons of CO2/TEU or 39.2 kg of CO2/TEU

This new technology and innovation is a huge step forward in the decarbonisation of shipping and cargo transit. Reducing the carbon emissions of cargo ships will help us in the fight against climate change, as thousands of ships set sail every week all over the world, these emissions soon add up and cause a great amount of harm to the environment.

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