Wind Blows Down Engine Power

By Jack Burke23 March 2017


A marine engineering program designed to enable a ship’s main engines to be throttled back when wind power conditions are favorable has been launched.

Finnish technology company Norsepower Oy Ltd., in partnership with fleet operator Maersk Tankers, the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and Shell Shipping & Maritime, has announced that it will install and trial Flettner rotor sails onboard a Maersk Tankers-owned vessel.

The project is said to be the first installation of wind-powered energy technology on a product tanker vessel and is expected to provide insights into fuel savings and operational experience. The rotor sails will be fitted during the first half of 2018, before undergoing testing and data analysis at sea until the end of 2019.

When wind conditions are favorable the main engines can be throttled back, providing a net fuel cost and emission savings while not impacting scheduling, according to the project team.

Maersk Tankers will supply a 109647-deadweight tonne Long Range 2 (LR2) product tanker vessel which will be retrofitted with two 30 m tall by 5 m diameter Norsepower Rotor Sails. Combined, these are expected to reduce average fuel consumption on typical global shipping routes by 7-10%.

The project is majority funded by the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) with contributions from Maersk Tankers and Norsepower. Shell will act as project coordinator, and provide operational and terminal/port consultancy to the project team while Maersk Tankers will provide technical and operational insight. ETI is a public/private partnership between BP, Caterpillar, energy company EDF, Rolls-Royce, Shell and the UK government.

Tuomas Riski, chief executive officer of Norsepower, said: “We are optimistic that support for this trial from these industry leading organizations will open up the market for our technology to a larger number of long-range product tanker vessels – paving the way for ship fuel efficiencies and ultimately reducing emissions, including greenhouse gasses. As an abundant and free renewable energy, wind power has a role to play in supporting the shipping industry to reduce its fuel consumption and meet impending carbon reduction targets.”

Tommy Thomassen, chief technical officer, Maersk Tankers, added: “Together with our partners, we have the opportunity to deploy an innovative technology that can improve fuel efficiency on our LR2 product tanker vessels and help to reduce their environmental impact.”

The team estimates that Flettner rotors have the potential to reduce ship fuel consumption substantially especially on tankers and dry bulk carriers. It is one of the few fuel-saving technologies that could offer double-digit percentage improvements, they added

The Norsepower Rotor Sail solution is a modernized version of the Flettner rotor – a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship. Each Rotor Sail is made using lightweight composite sandwich materials. Independent experts will analyze the data gathered from the project before publishing technical and operational insights, and performance studies.

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