Kite helps tow a cargo ship

Written by: Tom Shelley | Published:

A substantial cargo ship, the 9,775 tonne, 132 metre Beluga Skysails has recently completed an 11,952 nautical mile voyage assisted by a 160 square metre computer controlled kite.



“The initial focus during the first half of what is set to be an approximately 12-months pilot testing phase aboard the “Beluga SkySails” is on calibration work and adjustments to stabilize the towing kite propulsion,” explained Stephan Brabeck, the technical director of manufacturer SkySails in Hamburg. “In the second half the flight times will be extended and the performance perfected.” On numerous days during the maiden voyage the system was put in action for periods of between a few minutes and up to eight hours. During that time the SkySails-System pulled the ship with up to 5 tons of power at force 5 winds, which when compared to the engine output represents a relief of more than 20%. Projected onto an entire day, this performance by the “Beluga SkySails” represents savings of about 2.5 tons of fuel and more than $1,000 a day.”

The test and development programme is designated WINTECC (WINd propulsion TEChnology for Cargo vessels) and is part funded by the European Unions’s “LIFE” programme to the extent of 1.2 million euros. The development engineers used Maple symbolic mathematical software in order to simulate the design. Many matrix operations and derivatives needed to be applied in order to set up the equations in three dimensions.


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