As wind-assist propulsion technologies for commercial shipping are starting to become available and installations are ramping up, there is also a growing interest in primary wind solutions or optimized whole vessel design solutions.

Since the opening of their towing tank in 1939, SINTEF Ocean (formerly MARINTEK) has carried out research on novel ship technologies of numerous types. Wind propulsion, though one of the oldest forms of ship propulsion, is having a renaissance, as part of the push towards more environmentally friendly shipping. Today, SINTEF Ocean has announced that in order to help support the development of the technology segment even further, it is joining the International Windship Association (IWSA), the member driven association that promotes and helps facilitate the uptake of wind propulsion in commercial shipping.

“A webinar co-hosted by SINTEF Ocean and NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) for the SFI Smart Maritime organization in December 2020, confirmed there is strong interest in wind propulsion from academia, technology providers, designers and ship owners. Full-scale installations are on the rise, and we see a steady flow of new low-emission and zero-emission concepts that include wind propulsion in some way,” states Sverre Anders Alterskjær, Research Manager at SINTEF Ocean’s Ships and Ocean Structures department.

Still, the application of wind-assisted propulsion adds some complexity to the prediction of vessel performance in terms of energy efficiency, seakeeping and maneuvering. Considerations that allow for optimizing the potential of wind assistance should ideally also be carried out both in vessel design and operation, both of which are key areas that SINTEF brings extensive expertise to.

Alterskjær continues, “We have been a follower of the IWSA for some time, and have appreciated the open sharing of news, publications and relevant events on the webpage even for non-members. However, we feel that it is now time that we enter as a member, and we look forward to contributing more actively to connect, learn and share our research within the exciting field of wind propulsion.”

SINTEF Ocean is working on several projects involving wind-assisted propulsion and is currently carrying out internal research and development on numerical and experimental methods for evaluating different types of wind propulsors, and the optimization of vessels with wind propulsion in mind.
“Having SINTEF Ocean join IWSA now is very timely. Bringing their experience and R&D work on evaluating wind systems will strengthen our work to standardize those methods in the future, which is critical work as the momentum in the sector continues to build,” comments Gavin Allwright, IWSA Secretary General. “We are looking forward to working together to help realize a credible, viable wind propulsion future for the industry.”