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A Comparative Analysis of Wind Propulsion Systems for Ocean-Going Vessels

[+] Author Affiliations
Benjamin H. Gully, Michael E. Webber, Carolyn C. Seepersad

The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Paper No. IMECE2010-38395, pp. 1077-1085; 9 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Energy Systems Analysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability; NanoEngineering for Energy; Engineering to Address Climate Change, Parts A and B
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4429-8
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Recent increases in fuel prices have spurred interest in energy efficiency and alternative energy technologies. These interests are especially relevant for the marine industry, which is responsible for transporting over 90% of the world’s freight. The present global fleet of commercial ships consumes approximately 200 million tonnes of diesel fuel each year — which is expected to rise to around 350 million tonnes a year by 2020 [5]. Studies have been conducted evaluating technologies to increase seagoing propulsion efficiency as well as harness available alternative energy sources. One renewable source, wind, is particularly interesting since 1) it presents a vast source of free energy that has been used throughout much of the history of marine transportation, and 2) novel technologies are available that might make it attractive for modern ships. The purpose of this analysis is to specifically evaluate and compare the ability of two modern wind-based technologies to produce thrust-reducing propulsion power for use in reducing the fuel consumption of a ship, namely a rigid wing sail and Flettner rotor. The analysis focuses on design specifications for each based on existing literature and compares the performance of the two technologies within a specified, but naturally varying wind environment. The force-producing capabilities of each technology are compared as a function of the ship operational parameters of heading and speed.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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