This Massive Cargo Ship Will Harness The Wind With Its Hull

This Massive Cargo Ship Will Harness the Wind With Its Hull

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]


    Looks absurdly top heavy though

      That was my first thought, wouldn't rough seas pose a risk to tipping it over.

        Not to mention the effects of cross winds. They may as well just put sails up.

          Yeah these guys would never have thought of those issues. Better get on the phone to the R&D guys and give them the bad news.

    Plus it has a racing spoiler so you know it is cool!

      Yeah... Might be a winged keel under that thing... :)

    Clive Palmer should build THIS ... not Titanic 2.

    He goes to prove that being rich does not lead to intelligent choices.
    I'd allow a giant dinosaur on the top just to keep his Theme Park mentality going...preferably a Pterodactyl in place of the spoiler.

    Ok, so unless there's been some serious changes to the laws of nature since I finished my Aerospace degree, I'm going to go and call bullshit.

    The biggest, glaring problem is simple. That's not how an airfoil works.
    2 fundamental aspects of an airfoil seem to be overlooked.
    Firstly (in aero terms), an airfoil generates lift not thrust. Thrust is the forward force (produced in most cases by engines). Lift is generated by air moving faster over one side of the airfoil and slower over the other side. The pressure differential will cause the airfoil to pull upwards.
    The design in this video can not produce any force in the direction of motion.
    At 1:15 the video claims the symmetric airfoil will generate lift "pulling in the speed direction". This is just wrong. There is no other way to put it. It can't work like that.

    Also, since lift is generated perpendicular to the camber line of an airfoil, you would be generating a sideways force on the ship, which would not only keep trying to pull it off course, but also increase drag in the water.

    That design "might" reduce air drag for a ship and this improve fuel efficiency, since it's more aerodynamic than a floating log, but considering a cargo ship doesn't move very fast and you're not always travelling directly into the wind (like an aircraft, relatively) I would say that this aerodynamic effect is negligible.

    Finally, the majority of energy that a ship must produce to move forward is used to overcome the drag of moving through water. The drag on a ship from the water will be significantly more than the drag from the air. That's where most of your fuel consumption will go. Water is almost 1000 times more dense than air.
    The drag equation is D= 1/2 p (v^2) CD A where
    p = density of the fluid.
    v = velocity which we assume to be fixed
    CD = drag co-efficient. A cube is about 1 and an airfoil is about 0.04
    A = cross-sectional area. Remember this is the area directly to the fluid flow.
    So you can see that if we assume the shape of a boat is the same above the water and below it (which it's not) the water will generate about 1000 times more drag. So when it comes to fuel consumption, that's where most of your energy goes. If you reduce the drag on the part of the boat that's above water, you are only reducing 1/1000th of the overall drag of the boat.

    Put simply, I can't see how this could possibly work. Even if the wind direction was always exactly where you needed it, you simply can't generate a force in the direction of movement like that.

    Last edited 03/10/13 10:09 am

      That's all very nice and educated of you, but I don't think it will get built if it's not going to work. Pretty sure they have some serious boffins working on this, most likely it'l get wind tested too. Plus isn't this how a regular sailing boat works anyway..? The issues that confuse me is if it's so high, isn't it going to cause problems unloading/loading..? :)

      Last edited 03/10/13 10:27 am

        I think it just looks high because of the shape. The comparison images make it look similar hight to a normal cargo ship (which makes you wonder where all the cargo goes).

        As for sails, yes that's the general principal but there are a lot of other considerations with sails. For starters, they aren't symmetric airfoils.
        Secondly, they only work in certain directions, which is why there is a movable boom when you change direction relative to the wind.
        Thirdly they have a varying profile along the length of the sail. The camber line, twist and angle of attack vary at different locations along the sail.
        And finally, sailing into the wind, while possible is hardly the most efficient use of a sail. If you've ever sailed, you know that you have to travel at an angle to the wind. For a cargo ship, I can't see this being efficient due to the vast distances travelled. If the wind isn't in the ideal direction, you're either not going to get any benefit from it (or worse, have it detrimental impact) or you're going to have to go well out of your optimal shipping route.

        I'm no expert on sails but I'm pretty sure a solid, symmetrical airfoil is no substitute. Modern racing yachts do utilise a similar principal but they are very specialised vehicles built for very specific conditions. It would be similar to using a Lamborghini as a minibus...

        I'm sure someone's thought about this but without them explaining it better, I can't see how this could possible work. I'll believe it when I see it. Happy for someone to prove me wrong. If I was still at uni, I'd ask my aero professor for his opinion.

      Whilst I also agree with your call of Bull, I think you're looking at the wrong side of the drag issue. The article mentions that the foils would help lift the hull out of the water. Even if it is only marginally effective at doing so, every square meter of cross section that can be lifted out of the water will be a significant advantage, due to the extra drag that water exerts, as you mentioned.
      That said, I don't see how the ship's speed would be sufficient to create noticeable lift.

        Absolutely. Lifting the ship out of the water is the best way to remove water drag however I doubt a small wing with a bit of wind + speed of a cargo ship would be enough to make much of a difference, especially 60% difference.
        Also the design they showed provides no upwards lift, the video quite clearly shows an airfoil that resembles a racing yacht sail more than an aircraft.
        I don't think the intent is to lift anything up, I think they want to help push it, but there is no way the forward lift (thrust) would overcome drag. Otherwise all planes would do that.

    But if it does work out, the Vindskip design will easily be the most fuel efficient vessel to ever sail

    you know... other than a sailing ship.

    When did cargo ships switch to petrol?

    couldnt you mix this with those concept container ships with sails? would use even less fuel that way!

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