Skip to comments.Kite-Powered Ship Sets Sail For Greener Future
Posted on 01/20/2008 3:00:39 PM PST by blam
Kite-powered ship sets sail for greener future
Ben Martin and Tony Paterson in Berlin
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 20/01/2008
A cargo ship pulled by a giant, parachute-shaped kite will leave Germany on Tuesday on a voyage that could herald a new "green" age of commercial sailing on the high seas.
The owners of the MS Beluga, a 462ft cargo vessel, will try to prove that modern steel ships can harness wind power and reduce their reliance on diesel engines.
During the journey from Bremen to Venezuela, the crew will deploy a SkySail, a 160 square metre kite which will fly more than 600ft above the vessel, where winds are stronger and more consistent than at sea level.
Its inventor, Stephan Wrage, a 34-year-old German engineer, claims the kite will significantly reduce carbon emissions, cutting diesel consumption by up to 20 per cent and saving £800 a day in fuel costs. He believes an even bigger kite, up to 5,000 square metres, could result in fuel savings of up to 35 per cent.
He got the idea while flying a kite as a child, and has now developed the concept into a hybrid of the sailing ships of old and motorised modern craft.
The MS Beluga's journey comes more than a century after the world's commercial sailing fleet was replaced by coal-burning steamships. Mr Wrage hopes for a similar revolution, and believes the kites could be suitable for up to 60 per cent of the world's 90,000 commercial ships: "Only the tough conditions imposed on a ship during a long voyage of this kind can show whether the SkySail is effective and whether the materials used in the kite can stand up to the stresses and strains," he said.
The kite works on a similar principle to rigs used by kite-surfers, who skim the water at up to 55mph, but bears little resemblance to canvas sails on conventional sailing ships.
Instead of support from a mast, boom and rope, the SkySail is tied to the bow by a single line that also contains a cable linking it to a computer, which controls it. It acts like a child's kite, carving figure-of-eight patterns in the air, reaching speeds four times higher than the prevailing wind, which dramatically increases its pulling power.
Isn’t that called a “Sail?”
This is such a great idea, because everyone knows the wind is always at your back.
Thanks for the post Blam. It’s actually fun to watch some of the antics of the mentally green.
So can it “tack” through a headwind?
Uh huh. With the Owl and the Pussycat as captain and first mate.
I think it’s wonderful what “true believers” are willing to inflict on actual people when they don’t have to deal with the day-to-day realities. Sea and wind conditions can change by the moment, and I’m sure deckhands are looking forward to the good old days of taking in sail at midnight, aloft in a squall, and owners really want to double and triple crew sizes so they can abide by the decisions of some drooling socialist government functionary.
It doesn't have to.
It uses prevailing winds for the long haul and then motors to make land fall.
Or it simply winches down in adverse winds and starts engines.
But you may guess what the weakness is.
Ask any sailor.
It has to do with electricity.
Another wangdoodle design idea.
I suppose the price of fuel is driving the idea.
YOu mean the wind isn’t always behind you? Who knew?
The other funny thing about this is going to be watching their investment rip apart and fly away during a squall.
If they only put it up in perfect clear weather with the wind behind, it won’t be up long enough to pay for itself.
Back in the 1920’s a man named Flettner came up with a wind powered rotor ship which could sail closer to the wind (20-30 degrees) than this oversized kite-surfing rig. It had tall cylinders resembling smokestacks that rotated against the wind direction powered by electric motors. The Cousteau boys built a large trimaran with a similar setup and traveled many nautical miles with it - I was lucky enough to get a tour while they were tied up in Juneau, Alaska in the 90’s.
Based on the chart, they could save the same amount of fuel by going 2 knots slower.
Fine. Whatever. Makes sense to use wind energy, but I’m not about to worship these people for adding a sail to their ship.
Sail boats are how old?
Been there, done that. Remember the clipper ship Lightening? Faster India to New York. Got its best speed in near-hurricane conditions. Was obsoleted by the steamship, as I recall...
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