It doesn't matter how efficient we make their engines or how many solar panels we install on their decks, the world's largest cargo ships — those water-bound leviathans on which international trade depends — will require massive amounts of fuel for the foreseeable future. However, this conceptual super-carrier could potentially save billions of barrels of petrol every year just by harnessing the wind.
The Vindskip concept's design by Norway's Lade AS promises to cut fuel use by 60 per cent and CO2 emissions by up to 80 per cent thanks to an indicatively applied hull design. Engineers at the firm modelled the ship's hull after airfoils commonly found in aerospace design. This lifting body actually pulls the hull out of the water as liquefied natural gas-powered electrical generators propel the Vindskip forward. Just the wind created from its forward momentum — the ship's relative wind — is enough to help reduce the vessel's drag.
Given that the Vindskip concept has yet to get off the drawing board, nobody's actually all that sure it will be feasible in real world scenarios. But if it does work out, the Vindskip design will easily be the most fuel efficient vessel to ever sail and could very well change the face of international trade. [Lade AS via Cleantechnica]