A Cargo Ship With 123-foot ‘WindWing’ Sails Has Just Departed on its Maiden Voyage

Credits: CARGILL

A colossal cargo vessel, equipped with two towering “wing sails” each nearly 125 feet in height, has embarked on its inaugural journey, potentially signaling a future for wind-propelled maritime transport.

The ship, operated by the shipping company Cargill and named Pyxis Ocean, is sailing from China to Brazil, showcasing its two robust “WindWings” made from materials akin to those in wind turbines. As reported by the BBC, this nod to ancient marine propulsion techniques might cut the ship’s total emissions by up to 30%.

A statement released on August 21 detailed that the WindWings on Pyxis Ocean can conserve 1.5 tonnes of fuel for each wing daily. When paired with alternative fuel methods, these savings could increase further.

Throughout its projected six-week journey, experts will meticulously evaluate the performance of the ship’s sails, aiming to expand this innovation across Cargill’s fleet and the broader maritime sector. A project partner, in an interview with the BBC, speculated that a vessel employing four of these wings could curtail CO2 emissions by around 20 tonnes daily.

Wind power offers dual advantages: it emits no pollutants, and it’s both inexhaustible and reliable. This is particularly crucial in a sector that accounts for approximately 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, translating to nearly 837 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

Presently, fewer than 100 cargo ships incorporate some type of wind-aided mechanism, which is minuscule compared to the 110,000 ships operating worldwide.

The success of Pyxis Ocean’s WindWings may accelerate the adoption of eco-friendly technology retrofitting and promote the construction of new vessels already fitted with compatible systems.

In related developments, other wind-propelled marine projects are in progress. Earlier in the year, Swedish firm Oceanbird commenced the creation of a set of 40-meter tall, 200 metric ton sails, planned to be installed on the 14-year-old vehicle carrier, Wallenius Tirranna.

As noted by Offshore Energy, just one of Oceanbird’s sails might decrease emissions by 10%, conserving roughly 675,000 liters of diesel annually.