Clean maritime: using wind propulsion to reduce emissions

Mock up image of cargo ship with new sail technology

Credit: GT Green Technologies

A wind propulsion system that could reduce emissions and halve a vessel’s fuel costs gets funding for a new research study.

A young maritime design and technology company has won funding of £155,000 to explore the technical and economic feasibility of using wind propulsion to support the maritime industry’s move towards net zero.

Reducing carbon emissions

The project will fund research into a wingsail named AirWing (TM), a patent-pending rigid wind propulsion system comprising novel flow control to maximise fuel reduction.

The device will be capable of providing auxiliary power to a wide range of vessels, from small 20-metre boats up to large cargo carriers.

Initial research shows that the AirWing could reduce carbon emissions and fuel costs between 10% to 30% for retrofitted ships and up to 50% for new builds.

The AirWing is being designed by project leaders, GT Green Technologies, a growing team of wind propulsion experts and design engineers with over 40 years’ combined industry experience.

A unique design

George Thompson, GT Green Technologies founder and Managing Director, explained:

Our unique design will generate a huge amount of thrust from a compact unit.

The AirWing will stow down to a smaller deck footprint than competition and have much less impact on the operation of the vessel.

Making it a more attractive option for retrofit vessels with cluttered deck layouts and limited space.

Assessing and refining performance

In the first stage of the project, GT Green Technologies will run simulation exercises to assess and refine the device’s aerodynamic performance.

Contractors, SABE Fluid Dynamics, will bring to the project their experience of working with Formula 1 and the Americas Cup.

Project partners, the Manufacturing Technology Centre part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult will lead the second stage of the study. They will assess manufacturing costings and setting up the supply chains needed for future production.

The outcome from the study will be a detailed business case and strategy for commercialising the technology, including identifying any regulatory and operational barriers to adoption. It will also demonstrate the potential value of the AirWing to the UK’s maritime economy.

Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition round two

The Wind Propulsion Development and UK Manufacture Feasibility Study is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition round two (CMDC2).

Part of the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emission’s (UK SHORE), which was launched in May 2022.

CMDC is funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

As part of the CMDC2, over £14 million was allocated to 31 projects. Supported by 121 organisations from across the UK to deliver feasibility studies and collaborative research and development projects in clean maritime solutions.

The clean maritime video playlist is available on Innovate UK’s YouTube channel.

Last updated: 17 March 2023

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