Sunday, June 16

Cargo Ships Become More Energy-Efficient With High-Tech Sails

In an effort to cut costs and emissions on ocean cargo transport, the European plane maker, Airbus SE, is in the process of utilizing wind power. To move aircraft parts around the world, the company relies on large ocean-going cargo ships, and they are now planning to add huge 5,382-square-foot sails to some of the cargo ships in their fleet.

According to Airbus, the new sail technology operates like a giant kite. The aircraft manufacturer, second in the world only to the Boeing Company, expects to save more than $1.2 million in annual fuel spending. They are also hoping to cut carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 8,000 tons per year with this new technology.

Plus, this is only an initial test. If this modern sail technology is rolled out fleet-wide, the cost savings and emissions reductions could be huge.

The cargo ship that will be outfitted with the new sail is the Ville de Bordeaux, and it will set out on the ocean in 2021. The newly-efficient ship will bring aircraft parts from Europe to Mobile, Alabama, where Airbus has a location that assembles some of its single-aisle planes.

The International Maritime Organization has set standard for the shipping industry, with a goal of 30% improvement in energy efficiency globally. The organization has set rules to reduce pollution at sea, inspiring innovations across the industry, such as Airbus’s new sail and the advent of direct cargo transport, which is more environmentally friendly due to its decrease in transportation time and stops.

According to Airseas, the branch company formed of Airbus engineers that focuses on cargo ships, the sail will be called the SeaWing. AirSeas is predicting that on a 13-day journey, the SeaWing will cut the amount of fuel burned by about 20%, as well as the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

The Seawing is not just a massive sail, but an automated software system designed to make the duties of the captain easier. It includes onboard weather sensors that will tell the captain when it is most advantageous to deploy the Seawing. The system is also designed to stow itself away when it is no longer needed.

AirSea’s goal is to have a SeaWing system on 10% of all large commercial cargo vessels by 2030. The estimated payback on the SeaWing systems is to be five years.

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