Wind power is considered a sustainable, renewable energy source and has a much smaller impact on the environment compared to burning fossil fuels. Paring this universal energy source with cutting-edge technology could result in unprecedented efficiency, making it an increasingly viable option for powering our world.
One such approach is wind-assisted propulsion with a suction sail. A Norwegian shipping company, Odjfell, has partnered with the Spanish tech company bound4blue to install the innovative eSAIL system on a chemical tanker, making it the world’s first tanker vessel to harness this groundbreaking technology.
Odfjell has actively pursued decarbonization initiatives for many years. It has been studying sail technologies as a potential energy efficiency measure for its fleet since 2020. Jan Opedal, Manager of Projects at Odfjell, says the technology has the potential to reduce emissions by harvesting the energy on the ship itself and transforming it directly into a forward thrust.
The Norwegian company selected the eSAIL system after extensive evaluation of various Wind Assisted Propulsion Systems (WAPS) for its fleet by SSPA. bound4blue’s eSAIL system promises 6-7 times more lift than a conventional sail, with minimal power consumption and no mechanical complexity, ensuring simple and reliable operations.
The eSAIL is a type of WAPS based on active boundary layer control using suction. When exposed to wind, with the suction off, it only produces drag as with any other non-lifting structure. However, when the suction is activated, a small amount of air is sucked in, which re-adheres the airflow to the sail, generating enormous amounts of lift with low drag.
When installed on a vessel, the eSAIL technology by bound4blue is designed so that its high-lift ability maximizes fuel savings with a compact, lightweight, and low-cost system.
The pioneer installation will be completed in 2024.