Maersk tanker retrofitted with wind propulsion technology

Maersk tanker retrofitted with wind propulsion technology
The Norsepower Rotor Sails installed on-board the Maersk Pelican

A product tanker owned by Maersk has been fitted with two 20-metre tall Norsepower Rotor Sails to cut fuel consumption and emissions between 7 and 10 per cent on typical global shipping routes.

The Maersk Pelican features large, cylindrical mechanical sails that operate based on the Magnus effect. Wind hits the spinning Rotor Sails, causing air to accelerate on one side of the Rotor Sail and decelerate on the other. The difference in the speed of air flow results in a direct pressure difference, creating a lifting force that is perpendicular to the wind flow direction. This generates a forward thrust, propelling the vessel.

The installation of these Rotor Sails onto the Maersk Pelican is part of a joint project run by Norsepower, Maersk Tankers, Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and Shell Shipping & Maritime. Andrew Scott, programme manager HDV marine and offshore renewable energy, ETI confirmed that the purpose of the project was “to demonstrate the untapped potential of Rotor Sails. Auxiliary wind propulsion is one of the few fuel-saving technologies that is expected to offer double-digit percentage improvements. The technology is projected to be particularly suitable for tankers and dry bulk carriers, and this test will assist in determining the further potential for Rotor Sails in the product tanker industry.”

Dr. Grahaeme Henderson, vice-president, Shell Shipping & Maritime said: “The shipping industry faces a major challenge in how it can economically ship the increasing amounts of goods and energy the world demands, whilst lowering its environmental impact. We see significant advantages in embracing, testing and driving innovative technologies that we believe show real promise in helping the shipping industry meet this challenge.”

The Norsepower Rotor Sails have undergone rigorous land testing and are the first Rotor Sails to be Class approved for use on a product tanker vessel.

Tommy Thomassen, chief technical officer, Maersk Tankers commented: “This project is breaking ground in the product tanker industry. While the industry has gone through decades of technological development, the use of wind propulsion technology onboard a product tanker vessel could take us to a new playing field. This new technology has the potential to help the industry be more cost-competitive as it moves cargoes around the world for customers and to reduce the environmental impact.”

The Rotor Sails are the world’s largest at 30 metres tall by five metres in diameter and were installed on the product tanker vessel in the port of Rotterdam. The first voyage with the Rotor Sails installed will commence shortly.

This installation of the Rotor Sails on the Maersk Pelican marks the third vessel to be in daily commercial operation with the Norsepower wind-assisted technology.