Climate Action

Parasails to reduce fuel consumption of ships by 50 percent

They say that faith can move mountains. Now, faith in the wind has led to a new way to move ships. The technique, developed in Germany, is powerful enough to move today's deep-draught cargo vessels and can reduce fuel consumption by 50 percent.

  • 06 February 2009
  • Simione Talanoa

They say that faith can move mountains. Now, faith in the wind has led to a new way to move ships. The technique, developed in Germany, is powerful enough to move today's deep-draught cargo vessels and can reduce fuel consumption by 50 percent.

An adapted parasail is attached to the ship by cables that can be adjusted according to the direction and intensity of the winds. It is activated automatically, guided by an on-board computer.

A 160-square-metre parasail can use the wind to create a traction force of up to eight tonnes, nearly the same push produced by an engine of an Airbus A318 aircraft.

With the parasail system, ships can cut their annual fuel use by 10 to 30 percent, reaching 50 percent under optimal wind conditions.

In a way it is a return to navigation's origins, prior to the development of steam or diesel powered engines, when sails dominated the seascape.

But now, instead of a tall mast with a mainsail attached to it, the large parasail - like a giant parachute - can move in all directions. Its function does not replace, but rather complements the power produced by the engines.

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Source: IPS