Gigantic Cargo Sailboats to Replace Oil-Guzzling Cargo Fleets

Illustration for article titled Gigantic Cargo Sailboats to Replace Oil-Guzzling Cargo Fleets

There may be a very simple solution to the oil-guzzling problem on cargo ships that haul huge loads across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Wind power. A German company called SkySails believes that by attaching what are essentially giant parasails to cargo ships, they can reduce their use of oil by up to 35 percent.

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The SkySails propulsion system can attach to pretty much any large ship, is computer controlled and deploys and retracts automatically. The company recently completed a major test, criss-crossing the Atlantic in a cargo ship called the MS Beluga using one of their "towing kites." The result: a 20 percent fuel savings. The system is shown in a computer rendering above, and can be seen in actual operation on their test vessel, the MS Beaufort:

Illustration for article titled Gigantic Cargo Sailboats to Replace Oil-Guzzling Cargo Fleets
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An optional computerized system would allow ships to travel along a route optimized for wind power, and the SkySail is safer and more efficient than traditional masted sails, the company claims. Ships equipped with SkySails could put a big dent in the oil consumption and pollution created by the ever-growing container cargo industry. Photos by: SkySails.

MV "Beluga SkySails" successfully completes maiden voyage. [SkySails]

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DISCUSSION

braak
Chris Braak

@corpore-metal: Maybe it will just have two hundred of them!

I find hybrid stuff like this interesting. There was an article in Popular Mechanics a while ago about a guy who'd built a car that ran partially on water. After the cylinders were fired, the engine would squirt a jet of water into the chamber, which would instantly evaporate and get another stroke out. It improved the efficiency of the engine by 30%.