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Sustainable shipping takes a step forward with the launch of a wind-powered cargo ship.

In the current month, the inaugural journey of a sizable cargo vessel, denoted as Pyxis Ocean, commenced. However, in contrast to its predecessors, this particular one is partially fueled by wind energy.

The vessel, which has been contracted by the American shipping business Cargill, has undergone modifications to incorporate two WindWings. These WindWings are substantial steel sails, standing at a height of 37.5 meters (equivalent to 123 feet). They have been developed by the British firm BAR Technologies and manufactured in collaboration with Yara Marine Technologies, an industry partner.

The wings are anticipated to yield a reduction in emissions of up to 30%. According to developers, the potential for greater savings can be achieved by utilizing alternative fuels in conjunction with the aforementioned approach.

The expedition, originating from China and currently en route to Brazil, will serve as a rigorous assessment of the technology.

Wind energy

The shipping industry is responsible for the annual production of about one billion tons of carbon dioxide, constituting approximately 3% of world emissions attributed to human activities. In July, the industry promised to reduce its emissions that add to global warming, with the goal of having “net zero emissions” “by or around 2050.” Utilizing wind-generated electricity presents a favorable alternative in the given context. Although the notion of wind-assisted propulsion is not novel, with the use of sailing ships dating back over 5,000 years, there has been a recent emergence of new technology in this field.

Various experiments have been conducted on cargo ships to mitigate their reliance on fuel by implementing large kites and rotor technologies. However, as per the International Windship Association, the current operational fleet of big commercial vessels fitted with wind power stands at approximately 20.

The potential impact of Cargill’s arrival into the market should not be underestimated, given its status as one of the top global agricultural dealers, responsible for the transportation of around 225 million tons of commodities annually.

According to John Cooper, the Chief Executive Officer of BAR Technologies, the involvement of the company has played a crucial role in generating momentum for the WindWings project, as reported. According to the speaker, the individuals in question assume a leadership role, while others observe their actions with admiration and deference.

Building up

One of the primary advantages of the WindWings initiative, which receives co-funding from the European Union, lies in the provision of a retrofit solution capable of mitigating the carbon emissions associated with pre-existing maritime vessels. Cargill reports that around 55% of the global freight fleets have an age of up to nine years.

According to Cargill, the implementation of wings on ships not only aids in the reduction of emissions, but also facilitates compliance with emerging industry regulations pertaining to energy efficiency. Additionally, this measure enables vessel owners to achieve cost savings by mitigating fuel use. According to the company’s statement, WindWings have the potential to reduce fuel consumption by an average of 1.5 metric tons per wing per day on worldwide flights, and may yield even greater savings on trans-oceanic routes. The company acknowledges the potential significance of this factor, particularly in the context of utilizing environmentally sustainable fuels in the future, such as ammonia and methanol, which are projected to incur higher costs.

It has been observed by experts that in order for wind-assisted technologies to achieve widespread adoption, their cost must be commensurate with the amount of fuel savings they offer.

The WindWings are constructed using a composite material comprising steel and glass. Prior to the ship’s approach to a port or passage beneath a bridge, the WindWings have the capability to be folded onto the deck as a precautionary measure against potential collisions. The installation of the components took place on Pyxis Ocean in Shanghai, followed by the ship’s voyage to Singapore for the purpose of fueling and subsequent official launch.

The monitoring of wing performance throughout the route will enable the identification of design enhancements prior to large-scale production.

According to Cooper, BAR Technologies has several contracts in progress, one of which involves a vessel rented by Vale. This vessel is outfitted with four WindWings and is slated to embark from Shanghai in September.

The speaker expresses anticipation for providing assistance to the worldwide shipping sector throughout its shift towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable methods of propulsion and vessel design.

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