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Using ships' hulls as a sail

Staff writer |
Norwegian ship designer Lade AS has come up with a futuristic new design for cargo vessels, which uses the ships' hulls as a sail.

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The Vindskip, which is inspired by sailboats and aerospace, has its hull shaped like a symmetrical air foil that will generate aerodynamic lift, giving a pull in the ship's direction, the Fox News reported.

The hybrid merchant vessel will also use a Liquid Natural Gas electric propulsion system, which takes the ship to the necessary speed to generate aerodynamic lift on its hull and will employ a specialized computer program to analyze meteorological data and calculate the best sailing route based on available wind energy.

Terje Lade, manager of Lade AS, said that the Vindskip concept is being tested using wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics and testing of a model in a water tank is scheduled to begin in April.

Lade noted that the company plans to eventually license the Vindskip concept to shipping companies, ship consultants, and shipyards, adding that their estimate is that it should be sailing in 2019.

The project has already attracted the attention of at least one shipping industry heavyweight and Lade AS estimates that the Vindskip design could generate fuel savings of 60 percent and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent compared to a traditional ship.

The designer says that the design is particularly well suited to a number of passenger and container vessels.