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Wind Ships and Sail Power

Wind Ships and Sail Power
With the cost of marine diesel fuel rocketing, engineers are beginning to re-examine green technologies in ship design that have a long heritage.
A team of Danish naval architects led by Knud E. Hansen are working on a new design for a 50,000-tonne cargo ship whose diesel engine will be augmented by a set of high-tech Aerofoil sails set on six masts mounting. In Denmark, wind ship projects like these are supported by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.
Modern windships take advantage of new technologies and materials borrowed from the aerospace industry. Using high performance steel for the masts they do not need stays to hold them upright, and the sail itself is made of fibreglass, with a profile like an aircraft wing. Unlike traditional sails, these fibreglass wings do not need a large crew to operate them, and are controlled hydraulically from the bridge. An important downside of sails however is that they exert aerodynamic drag which negates some of the fuel savings from having them there in the first place.
Hamburg company, SkySails, are developing high-tech kites which pull a ship across the ocean by utilising winds high above it. The kites would complement a conventional diesel engine and, providing the wind is blowing in a favorable direction, the team at SkySails believe their use can halve the amount of fuel a ship burns.
With the SkySails aerodynamic drag is not a problem as the system harnesses the winds higher above the ocean with an inflatable aerofoil - a kite designed to fly at a height of 100 to 500 metres, towing the ship on a cable fastened to the hull. At this height winds are often stronger and more dependable. And if winds are unfavourable the kite can simply be winched into the ship and stored.
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