If there is one thing about the future, it would be this – as sure as it will arrive, no one can really tell what would happen. Well, the Wind Challenger project has the idea of working on a ship design which is said to substantially reduce fuel consumption, especially in large merchant vessels. The Wind Challenger project is currently being developed under the guise of a group that comprises members from the University of Tokyo amongst others, using an old school idea merged alongside modern technology. Basically, gargantuan retractable sails that measure 20m wide and 50m high will see action here to maximize the use of wind energy.
Simulations for shipping routes like Yokohama-Seattle have been performed in computers, and the results have proved to be encouraging to say the least. These results point to hybrid ships with sails and engines that is said to reduce annual fuel consumption by up to 30% – and this is the average figure, mind you. Each sail’s angles can be controlled individually so that the maximum propulsive force can be achieved, and depending on weather conditions, the telescoping sails will be able to contract according to its five parts.
It will take a while before you see a return on investment though, since the sails are pricey – to the tune of approximately $2.5 million each. Depending on the cost, one can expect to recoup their initial investment in 5 to 10 years’ time.