In observance of Independence Day, we are closed on Thursday, July 4, 2024.

Exploring the Pyxis Ocean’s maiden voyage with WindWings sails: a game-changer for eco-friendly shipping? Dive into the potential future of maritime travel.

In a groundbreaking move towards sustainable shipping, a cargo ship fitted with tall British-designed sails, termed WindWings, has begun its maiden voyage. Cargill, the firm behind the vessel, aims for a more environmentally-friendly maritime future.

These WindWings are crafted to reduce the ship's reliance on fuel, addressing the shipping sector's carbon emissions, which account for around 2.1% of global CO2 emissions. The Pyxis Ocean's journey from China to Brazil will be a crucial test for these WindWings, revisiting traditional sailing techniques for contemporary cargo movement.

According to BBC, when moored, these sails, standing at 123ft (37.5m) and made of durable wind turbine materials, are compactly folded. They're expanded on open waters, capturing the wind's power. This method might curtail a ship's entire emission output by approximately 30%.
Speaking to the BBC, Jan Dieleman, the president of Cargill Ocean Transportation, remarked, "Five, six years ago, if you would ask people in shipping about decarbonizing, they would say 'well, it's going to be very difficult, I don't see this happening any time soon'. Five years later, I think the narrative has changed completely and everybody is really convinced that they need to do their part - everybody is just struggling a little on how we're going to do this."

This sail technology traces its roots to the UK's BAR Technologies, an offshoot from Sir Ben Ainslie's 2017 America's Cup team. John Cooper of BAR Technologies, while speaking to the BBC, emphasized the importance of this voyage and predicted, "I do predict by 2025 half the new-build ships will be ordered with wind propulsion."

Even with potential fuel savings, manufacturing these sails happens in China. Cooper cited the prohibitive costs of imported steel as the main hindrance, saying to the BBC, "It's a shame, I'd love to build in the UK."

Experts have highlighted the significance of wind power in the shipping world, which is responsible for 837 million tonnes of CO2 annually. Dr. Simon Bullock commented, "Wind power can make a big difference," and "Ultimately we do need zero-carbon fuels on all ships, but in the meantime, it is imperative to make every journey as efficient as possible."

Stephen Gordon from Clarksons Research noted that even with increasing interest in wind technology, its prevalence in the grand scale of global shipping remains minuscule. 

Yet, John Cooper remains hopeful about wind wings, mentioning, "The engineers always hate it, but I always say it's back to the future."

Samira is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, but deep inside, her heart is a nomad! She's a state champion debater, a public speaker, a scriptwriter, a theater actress, but most importantly — A GREEN CITIZEN! She thinks of herself as a storyteller who thrives on enjoying the life at fullest and telling everyone the tales of life.

Subscribe to
our newsletter