Skip to main content

Pioneering ‘WindWings’ technology could make cargo ships greener

Pyxis Ocean sets sail with ground-breaking wind technology.

With the shipping industry estimated to be responsible for about 2.1% of global carbon dioxide emissions, the hunt is on for greener technology to reduce those numbers.

Eyeing a possible solution in what could prove to be a pivotal moment for the industry, shipping firm Cargill has retrofitted a cargo ship with enormous, rigid “WindWings” sails designed to slash fuel consumption.

The Pyxis Ocean vessel is now on its maiden voyage from China to Brazil to put the technology through its paces ahead of a possible rollout for the commercial shipping industry. The journey is expected to take around six weeks.

The 123-foot-tall sails are made from the same material used for wind turbines for maximum durability, folding down when the ship is in port and opening up when it’s out on the open sea.

The technology is the creation of British firm BAR Technologies. Its CEO, John Cooper, said that Cargill got in touch and asked if it could invent a wind propulsion system for its ships. “They arguably know more about shipping than BAR Tech; we’re the techie guys knowing how to invent things and that partnership has been really, really strong.”

Using wind power rather than engine power could reduce a ship’s emissions by 30% over its lifetime, according to Cargill.

“The maritime industry is on a journey to decarbonize; it’s not an easy one, but it is an exciting one,” said Cargill president Jan Dieleman. “At Cargill we have a responsibility to pioneer decarbonizing solutions across all our supply chains to meet our customers’ needs and the needs of the planet.”

The WindWings project is co-funded by the European Union as part of the CHEK Horizon 2020 initiative and offers a retrofit solution to decarbonize existing vessels.

The performance of the WindWings on the Pyxis Ocean will be carefully monitored during its voyage, with the gathered data helping engineers refine the design, operation, and performance of the sails before potentially bringing the technology to other cargo ships across the industry.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
NASA’s Artemis moon astronauts suit up for mission practice run
NASA's crew for the Artemis II lunar mission.

The four Artemis II astronauts who will embark on a flyby of the moon in November next year successfully conducted a pre-launch practice run on Wednesday.

In line with launch day procedures, NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Victor Glover, and Reid Wiseman, along with Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, started the day by waking up inside the crew quarters at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Read more
Fujifilm’s new Instax Pal camera is fun, but pricey
Fujifilm's Instax Pal camera.

INSTAX Pal Promotional Video "Making small moments feel big"/FUJIFILM

Fujifilm has just unveiled the Instax Pal camera, a diminutive digital device targeted at teens who might want to print their pictures, too.

Read more
Check out this old news report of when Apple released the first iPhone
Apple's first iPhone.

The first iPhone 15 customers are already heading to Apple Stores in Australia and Asia to pick up the new device, or are having it delivered to their door.

Apple’s new handset range comprises the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Pricing starts at $799 and tops out at $1,599 -- but it’ll cost even more if you opt for a case, a screen cover, and AppleCare.

Read more